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Lectures on the origin and growth of the

3 1924 005 834 407


The tine

original of

tiiis

book

is in

Cornell University Library.

There are no known copyright

restrictions in

the United States on the use of the

text.

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Ideas and Usages upon the Dr. Fairbairn. 8vo. Cloth.

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THE HIBBKRT LECTURES, 1891.


THE HIBBER T LECTURES,

i8gi.

LECTURES ON THE

ORIGIN

AND GROWTH OF THE

CONCEPTION OF

G-OD

AS ILLUSTRATED BY

ANTHROPOLOaY AND HISTORY. BY

COUNT GOBLET D'^LVIELLA, PKOPBSSOR OF THE HISTORY OF RELIGIONS AT THE ONIVEESITT OF BRUSSELS.

WILLIAMS AND NOEGATE, 14

HENRIETTA STREET, COVENT GARDEN, LONDON; STREET, EDINBURaH. 20, SOUTH FREDERICK

And

1892.

\AU Bights

restrved.]


LONDON 0. GREEN ANB BON,

PKINIBI) BY

178,

STRAND.


TO

THE UNIVERSITY OF BRUSSELS, POUNDED BY PEIVATE INITIATIVE

ON THE PKINCIPLE OF PEEE

INQUIRY.


PREFACE.

Many ment work

made to trace the developGod; and, apart from the

attempts have been

of the conception of of the theologians,

torians

the anthropologists and his-

have often been led by their respective methods

to "widely different solutions of the problem.

It has

appeared to me, however, that these methods do not exclude each other

;

nay, that each finds in the other

its

necessary supplement. I

may be

reproached for associating such different

methods together, and I have already been told that as soon as

method

we

apply what

known

is

as the comparative

to the investigation of the origins of Eeligion,

or endeavour to trace its pre-historic development, or

even to elucidate the evolution of Eeligion in general,

by reference have already

upon that

to the fortunes of the several creeds, left

we

the domain of history, and entered

of pure philosophy.

I should myself prefer to give a wider signification to the word history, and make it include all attempts to recover the past of mankind

;

but

if

we

are to restrict

its

application to facts of the "historic age" of civilized communities, then history must assuredly be supple-

mented by other

studies

which can throw

light

upon a


VIU

PEEFACE.

remoter horizon. us certainty that

;

—but

It is true that these studies cannot give

nor, indeed, can history itself

at least they can give us information concern-

human

ing the origin and early stages of

culture, the

which may lend each other mutual support,

details of

and may find confirmation in after

always do

do the names

all,

historical facts.

we

And what,

give our methods signify,

provided they bring us nearer to the truth ?

While

my

who

premises wake the suspicion of those

shrink from applying the ordinary canons of investigation to religious phenomena,

may

my conclusions, in their turn,

prove unacceptable to those

free inquiry the standing foe

the religious sentiment

Tet

itself.

with want of logic or with

who

see in the spirit of

and the destined destroyer of I cannot tax myself

partiality, if

my

attempt to

deduce the laws of religious evolution from the admitted facts has

brought

me

to the conclusion that the scientific

treatment of Eeligion does not affect

the. religious senti-

ment in the revolutionary manner feared by some and for by others. Eather does the study of comparative theology seem to reveal a growing tendency towards the

hoped

admission of the principle laid as a

bond

of

down by Herbert

Spencer,

union between religion and science,

that

"the power manifested throughout the universe distinguished as material, is the same power which in ourselves wells up under the form of consciousness," both modes of force

being regarded as phenomenal manifestations of

one absolute Eeality by which they are immediately produced.

my subject I have which inspired the founder

I trust that in this treatment of

remained

faithful to the spirit


PREFACE. of the Hibbert Trust

IX

and the promoters of the Hibbert

Lectures.

I have only to add that I regard tbis tinuation of

my

work

as a con-

previous studies on " Tbe Contemporary

Evolution of Eeligious Thought in England, America,

and India." ^ Having described the most advanced forms of Eeligion amongst the enlightened minds of our age, I felt a special interest in investigating the gradual

development of these forms and the relation in which they stand to the lowest manifestations of religious cul-

Enormous

ture.

as the distance appears,

it

does not

prove impossible to trace the road that leads from the

one extreme to the other; and here again illustration of that

adage which

is

we

now coming

find an to domi-

nate every branch of knowledge, Natura non facit I

ought

to

express

my

Trustees for having offered of developing

my

gratitude to

me

this

saltus.

the Hibbert

unique opportunity

views before an English public whose

But what when M. Ernest Eenan him-

hospitable welcome I shall always remember.

adequate terms can I self described

find,

a similar invitation as " one of the rewards

of his life"? I have also to offer

my

special thanks to

Mr. Wick-

steed for the patience and accuracy with which he has

executed the translation of these Lectures.

Goblet d'Alviella. Court 1

St.

Etibnne, Dee. 1891.

English. Translation

and Norgate, 1885.

by the Eev.

J.

Moden.

London

:

Williams


Ebratdm. p. 6, line 10, for "

Boeohoven" read " Baohofen."

TEANSLATOR'S NOTE. The

references to Tyler's " Primitive Culture" have, through inadvert-

ence, been

The

made

passages referred

On

p.

to the first edition (1871), except in a. few cases.

following table

wUl enable

possessors of

any

edition to find the

to.

56 the passage referred to

is ii.

285 of the editions of 1873 and 1891.

83

ii.

300

112

ii.

178

sq.

114

ii.

177

sq.

115

ii.

174

117

ii.

216

140

ii.

349

189

ii.

69 of the edition of 1871.

190

ii.

73


TABLE OF CONTENTS.

PAGE

Prbfacb

...

...

Lecture

vii

...

I.

ON METHODS OF EESEAECH INTO THE PEE-HISTOEIG MANIFESTATIONS OF EELIGION. Eeligious beliefs and institutions discovered at the history.

—Inability the —Eecourse of

their origins.

sary

method

historic

to the comparative

...

...

...

...

dawn

of

to reconstruct

method

...

neces-

...

1

...

Eeasons for believing that the general evolution of humanity has been progressive ; and inferences as to our humble

—Eefutation of the theory that man began —Point of departure of the development. —Estimate the value of the ancient origins.

high level of

of

tions

a

at

religious

culture.

and Sacred Books of the

Conclusions drawn from philology. conceptions formulated at the

several peoples

— Essence dawn

...

tradi...

5

— 12

12

— 14

and form of the

of languages.

bility of their framers to formulate abstract ideas

—Ina...

Funeral rites in the mampre-historic archaeology. moth age; in the reindeer age; in the neolithic period. Traces of idolatry; ScuU-trepanning. The megaliths. The method of pre-historic archseothe worship of the axe.

Data of

15—30

logy Folk-lore.

— Eeligious

survivals in popular customs; in social

usages; in ecclesiastical liturgies

...

...

30

— 38


XU

TABLE OF CONTENTS. PAGE

Comparative ethnography

How

far is the

primitive

man 1

:

legitimacy and

its

its

importance.

contemporary savage the counterpart of

...

...

...

...

38

41

Applicability of the general law of continuity and progress to the religious sentiment.

—Present position

of the pro-

41—46

hlem

Lb'oturb

II.

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD. (i.)

The Worship op Nature, and the Worship of the Dead.

Definition of religion.— Did religion spring from the emotions or from the reason

?

— Have animals

religion

?

47

...

—51

Unwarranted extension of the idea of personality.—rAttribution of all

movement

to personal agents.

— Metaphorical

language fosters but does not create the illusion.

—To what

extent do children and savages confound the personal and the impersonal

?

...

...

...

...

Deity implies superiority and mystery.

—Original —

51

...

— 63

distinction

between the natural and the abnormal. Deification of phenomena which man cannot understand or control. Nature-worship.

— The

emotion of fear and the sense of

the Infinite as religious motives.

an active power with which

—Worship addressed

63

relations

Confusion of concomitance and causality Assimilation of dreams to reality.

Effect of

...

...

The

—Future

life.

77—82 (ii.)

Primitive Eites.

— Primitive theory of — Sorcery. — Sources

gods.

precede propitiation

attri-

— Sources of the worship

of the dead

Prayer.

—71 — 73

73—76

...

idea of the " double."

71

dreams in multi-

plying the superhuman beings and extending their butes

to

possible to enter into

it is

?

sacrifice.

—Intimidation of the —Did conjuration

of symbolism. ...

...

...

...

82

96


TABLE OF CONTENTS.

Lecture

Xlll

III.

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM. (i.)

Spiritism, Fetishism

and Idolatry. PAGE

When natural objects are adored,

it is

the personality with which

they are supposed to he endowed to which the worship addressed.

—This

personality

is

conceived,

is

by analogy with

that of man, in the form of a " double '' that can be sepa-

The distinction between body and soul extended to all personified objects. What becomes of the crowd of souls released by the disappear-

rated from its envelope.

— Spiritism. — The

ance of their visible envelopes. spirits

not necessarily the result of necrolatry

belief in

...

97

—106

— Obsession, —Belief that the appropriaof the lodged tion of an object secures the within — Sources fetishism. —The an elaborated — Criticism of the —Sundry springs of

Eeligious

phenomena connected with

spiritism.

possession, talismans, fetishes.

services

spirit

idol

of

it.

idolatry.

fetish.

theory that idols were at

Is idolatry a step in advance

(ii.)

symbolic representations.

first

...

...

?

...

106

— 122

The Divine Hierarchy.

Arrested development and indications of degeneration in the beliefs of certain peoples.

the conception of

—The

progressive evolution of

God starts from the

differentiation of the

superhuman powers. Preponderance granted to the regents of the great phenomena of nature, to the souls of the illustrious dead, to the genii of species, of social groups and of moral abstractions

...

Subordination of spirits to gods.

upon those of Europeans

;

earth.

...

—The divine

—The

...

...

societies

122

— 138

modelled

divine societies of the Indo-

of the Egyptians

;

of the Mesopotamians'; of

the Western Semites; of the aboriginal Americans; of the Chinese

138—152


XIV

TABLE OF CONTENTS.

Lecture IV.

DUALISM. (i.)

The Struggle for Order.

Selfishness of th.e first gods.

man.

—Eelations

of

PAGE

—Alliance

between the gods and

mythology and

religion.

— How

the

gods became interested in securing order in the universe 153

— 158

Dualism of the superhuman personalities representing the hostile and the beneficent forces of nature respectively. Accen-

tuation of dualism as religion advances.

— Confidence

—The

the final triumph of the beneficent deities.

in

idea of

the cosmic order generated by the spectacle of the regular recurrence of

phenomena

Gradual restriction of the

field

158

...

...

...

abandoned

— 167

to divine caprice.

Personifications of the natural order exalted above the

ancient gods.

—The supreme god the

of the cosmic order (ii.)

author and sustainer

...

...

168

...

...

— 174

The Struggle for Good.

The absurd and immoral

actions attributed to the gods some-

times to be explained as metaphorical descriptions

of

natural phenomena, sometimes as survivals from the bar-

barism of

— Original — Influence of the

earlier generations.

morals and religion.

independence of

religious sentiment

in consolidating the social relations

...

175

...

— 179

The divine sanction of the oath. Intervention of the gods in the ordeal. The gods punish attacks on the community. Conception of a moral order on the model of the cosmic

order

179

Unpunished violations of the moral order argue ness or the injustice of the gods. future

life.

either the feeble-

— Solution

offered

— Conception of the future similar worse. — Assignment of the life as

different abodes

world.

their conduct in

— The theory of continuation —Eecompense death

retribution.

earth

according to

after

by a

to the

present, as better, or as to

— 186

souls this

and the theory of and recompense on

186—200


TABLE OF CONTENTS.

XV PAGE

Purification of the character of the gods

by the of the moral order to the divine order. The Deity reduced solely to justice and love

assimilation

attributes of

200-^203

Lecture V.

MONOTHEISM. Monolatry.

—National pantheons. —Gods attached

to the land

— Monolatry founded on the belief in the superiority of the national god. — Conception of a supreme or the people.

god, sovereign of gods and men.

—Formation

genealogies in the national pantheons.

conceived as the universal father

The

of divine

—The supreme god ...

..

204

...

— 211

place of metaphysical speculation in the development of

—Monotheism implies not only in conceived by worshippers. — Simplification of the pantheons by the assimilation of the gods representing gous phenomena. — Conception of a god of whom other the several members, forms names. — The triune God of Egypt. —The Semitic monotheism. — God from matter. — Indo-European pantheism. — God evolving the universe out of own substance. — God the soul the —The One without a second 211 — 226 of the Only God. — Their The ancient gods before the monotheisn.

suijeriority

power, but in nature, on the part of the Supreme Deity as his

analo-

single

deities are

all

or

as

distinct

his

as

universe.

of

face

transformation into hypostases, demiurges and mediators.

The

religious syncretism of the declining

—The

Greco-Roman

— God reduced the absolute unity by modern philosophy. — Opposition the supposition of in God, but not the —The divine intermeinterventions by secondary —The transformed into abstractions

paganism.

Christian theodicy.

to

of

science,

to

to

belief

deities.

or ideal types.

diaries

eternal

The

and

eternal

laries

infinite

energy whence

power that makes

all

things proceed.

for righteousness.

— Corol226—244


XVI

TABLE OF CONTENTS..

Lectubb VI.

THE FUTUEE OF WOESHIP AS DEDUCED FEOM

ITS

PAST. Transformation of the motives of worship.

fear

and

— Love takes bearings —Disappearance of the lower elements of worship.

admiration tend to become. afresh.

PAUB

—What its

Divination and sorcery in our day

...

...

245

— 250

Transformation of the expressions of worship.— What prayer tends to become. tion

—Evolution of

and attenuation

;

the moral transformation of bolism.

sacrifice

its spiritualiza-

;

offerings pass into acts of sacrifice.

homage

—Evolution

Applications of imitative symbolism.

of sym-

Services

rendered by symbolism to free inquiry and religious progress.

— Evolution

— Growth and — Place of the ministry in modern

of the priesthood.

solution of theocracies.

dis-

250—277

society

Is worship destined to disappear? ture.

Satisfaction

— Societies

demanded by our

for ethical cul-

aesthetic

and

spiritual

—Religious progress the churches and mutual of the —Eeligion and the masses. Eeligion and contemporary —Need of a stronger motive than supplied by the teachings of even the love of humanity. — Causes 277 — 288 mism. —Danger of a reaction Brighter prospects —Importance the question, Has a — Conclusion the conception God in in

faculties.

relations

religions.

Socialism.

altruistic

is

of pessi-

•science or

religious

...

for religion.

life

the future

goal

1

...

of

:

of

288—296


Lecture

I.

OK THE METHODS OF EESEAECH INTO THE PEE-HISTOEIC MANIFESTATIONS OP EELIGION.

When

the

first

volume

of

the

Hihhert Lectures

appeared, in 1878, the general history of religions was

but just beginning to take

advanced study" on

the

its

place in the courses of

Continent;

and I can well

remember the delight and admiration with which devoted as I had long been to this branch of historical study

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;I devoured the pages on which

had lavished the wealth of

his

Prof.

Max

Miiller

knowledge and the charm

of his style in drawing out the lessons to be derived from

the study of the Eeligions of India. I to

little

imagined that in thirteen years I was myself

have the honour

in this Chau".

of succeeding that illustrious master

And may

be I owe so flattering a distinc-

tion in no small degree to the efforts I have made, from

the very beginnings of

my work

as a writer, to dissipate

a prejudice concerning England, and the Anglo-Saxon race in general, that

Channel.

still

lurks amongst us west of the

It is the idea, based on very one-sided obser-

vations, that in matters of religion

most formal and the most

upon the earth

;

or, in

you are

at once the

superficial of all the nations

other words, that you divide your

B


2

I.

METHODS OF RESEARCH INTO THE

two sharply-defined sections, in the first of whieli (embracing one day out of the seven) you passively accept all the ceremony, discipline, and even doctrine, to lives into

which

tradition has attached the label of respectability,

whereas in the other (including

all

the rest of the week)

you are completely absorbed by your material interests, and never give a thought to the great Beyond. This view can only be held by those who do not know or do not appreciate the strength of the movement which has never been lacking amongst you towards gaining a rational satisfaction for the religious needs of the

of

mind and heart

man.

The

institution of the

how

has helped to show

Hibbert Lectures in particular this progressive spirit

may

support in the comparative history of religions

perhaps of the

hostile

I

still

more

to point out

how

camps may now serve

England

itself,

their influence

where

it

find

and

the impartial study

very subject that has so long divided to bring

would add that these Lectures,

;

them

men

into

together.

after bearing fruit in

would not be

difficult to trace

upon the temper and the method

of reli-

gious discussion, have re-acted most happily upon Continental thought

and

this

itself,

in helping to enlarge its horizon

even apart from the

specific services

rendered to purely historical research. so true, that in

Indeed,

coming here to expound

evolution of the religious idea, I

am

all this is

my views

on the

in danger, on

points than one, of simply returning to

your own thoughts, in place of the

they have

more

you the echo

of

original, not to say

revolutionary, ideas which, for anything I

know, may in

some quarters be expected of me. For

you have only

this


PRE-HISTOEIC MANIFESTATIONS OF EELIGION.

3

blame your own etlmograpliers, your own sociologists, and your own historians, upon wh.om it is impossible for

to

any one

may still

to help drawing, in whatever part of the world he undertake to treat of the history of religions, and

more

of the history of Eeligion,

The

â&#x20AC;&#x17E; Fre-mstorie .

,

.

development

scholars

themselves

and spe-

to the study of ancieut religions, cifically

Chair,

who have devoted

have

my

precursors

illustrious

in

this

you the methods by which

before

laid

the developments of the religious systems underlying the worship of the most important

We

been respectively traced. that,

in spite of

lines of this

laid

down.

civilizations

are in a position to say

some divergences in

work

of reconstruction are

This result

is

have

chiefly

due

detail,

now to

the main

definitively

the applica-

method that is to say, the collection, classification, and interpretation of written evidence, together with the monumental inscriptions which have been discovered in such vast numbers during the last tion of the historical

;

half-century.

Nevertheless, the historical method can give us no

information at

all

concerning the origins of the most

important ancient worships.

A glance

at the genealogical

tree of the higher religions will at once convince us that

they

all

depend upon each other in an unbroken

line of

filiation, or are derived from a small number of systems that rose up independently in the bosoms of sundry

groups of distinct and unrelated peoples. trace

them beyond

this point

by

b2

But we cannot

direct observation.


4

I.

METHODS or EESEAEOH INTO THE

In every instance

we

find that, as "we go

back through

the ages, written documents become ever scarcer,

till

cease altogether, and the ground seems to fall

beneath the investigator's point

we

feet.

And

they

away

yet at this remotest

already find beliefs and institutions fully recog-

nizable, which

have maintained themselves right on, across

the whole series of iatermediate systems, into the heart of the religions of the present day.

These elements, common to

may 1.

be classed as follows

The

all

organized religions,

:

belief in the existence of

superhuman beings

who intervene in a mysterious manner in man and the course of nature. 2.

Attempts

to

draw near

the destinies of

to these beings or to escape

them, to forecast the object of their intervention and the form

will take, or to

it

modify their action by con-

ciliation or comptdsion. 3.

Eecourse to the mediation of certain individuals

supposed to have special qualifications for success in such attempts.

The placing of certain customs under the sanction the superhuman powers.

4.

of

Unless religions

we

are to suppose that these factors of the early

were suddenly formed at a given moment, we

are compelled to admit that they

must have had a rudi-

mentary development before their history.

To

first

appearance in

re-discover this development,

we must appeal

to psychology, philology, pre-historic archaeology, folklore,

and ethnography.

some contribution bination of

them

to

Every one

of these sciences has

make, and nothing short of the com-

all will suffice to

solve the problem.

But


PEE-HISTOEIC MANIFESTATIONS OP RELIGION^

amongst

these,

is

it

comparative or descriptive ethrto-

graphy whieli supplies us

make good the And,

after

parative

5

witli tlie richest material to

deficiencies of historical data. this is

all,

method

but an application of the com-

so justly glorified

by Freeman

the most precious acquisitions of our century

as one of

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;an

appli-

cation already accepted without question in researches into the origins of language, of art, of the family, of

property,

of law,

from the

classical

Freeman,

De

McLennan,

and even works

of

of

morals,

as

is

obvious

such authors as Boechoven,

Laveleye, Giraud-Teulon, Sumner Maine,

Max

Miiller,

Lubbock and Starcke

;

not to

mention the numerous sociological works which, especially in

England and France, have employed the com-

parative method in attempting to retrace the general

course of

human

Eeligious phenomena, in

evolution.

same treatment by enlightened theologians such as Professors Tiele and their turn, have been subjected to the

E^ville,

who can

joiu hands on this field of research with

ethnographers like Mr. E, B. Tylor, sociologists like

Mr. Herbert Spencer, and students Andrew Lang. I shall endeavour steps of these eminent writers in

Mr.

of folk-lore like

to tread in the foot-

my

attempts to recon-

struct, so far as possible, the first manifestations of the

belief in the Divine

with a view to tracing subsequently,

;

in the facts recorded

ment which,

if

By progress and of retrogression.

history, the sequel of a develop-

we may judge

has not yet reached Theories of

by

of the future

past,

its goal.

separately examining the chief factors

......

â&#x20AC;&#x17E;

of Contemporary civilization, ^^^^^

by the

^^^ ^^^

,,

or tne

i-

n

cniet

^^^^^ ^^^ dominion of the


6

I,

METHODS OF RESEARCH INTO THE establish historically that the

we may

globe,

march of

been progressive; that is to say, that there is a constant and growing tendency to secure the same results at the expense of smaller efforts, and to utilize civilization has

the surplus of forces thus tion of

left

disposable for the satisfacIt must, indeed,

more and more exalted wants.

be admitted that this movement

not continuous

is

sometimes arrested, sometimes even reversed

;

;

it is

but taken

Prom

as a whole, its direction cannot be mistaken.

the

other side, palaeontology shows us that before the appear-

ance of

man upon

the earth,

life

had always been pro-

gressive; that is to say, that studied in its great successive periods, it reveals a tendency to produce a succession of

creatures of growing complexity, the

found in man, whether we

crown

of all

being

consider the range of his

intellect

and moral

upon the

forces of external nature.

faculties, or his

power

of re-acting

This in

a strong presumption that humanity in

its

itself raises

pre-historic

period was not exempt from the general law of develop-

ment of living must be sought

beings,

and therefore that

its

origins

in a state inferior to anything that the

oldest evidence of primitive civilization reveals to us.

Pre-historic archseology turns this presumption almost into a certainty. of doubt that

We

now know beyond

the possibility

wherever the super -position of several

industrial strata has been established, the age of iron

was preceded by an age of bronze or copper, the age of metals by an age of stone, and the age of polished stone

by one

of cut or chipped stone.

We

discover a

period at which man, though he had not yet arrived at

the relative civilizatiop of which the earliest inscriptions


PRE-HISTOEIC MANIFESTATIONS OF EELIGION. preserve

the

memory, already practised

possessed domestic animals, raised rough

and gathered

stone,

or in lake cities.

agriculture,

monuments

of

into little groups on fortified heights

Another period reveals

remoter antiquity (for

it

itself in

a yet

corresponds to the deposits of

the quaternary rocks), in which

by hunting,

7

men

lived exclusively

clothed themselves in the skins of beasts,

and dwelt in narrow caves or were scattered in nomadic hordes on steppes desolated by the rigour of the glacial epoch.

drawn

we can

Finally,

trace a period yet further with-

into the twilight, in which, under a gentle

and

moist climate, man, the contemporary of the elephas antiquus, perhaps

still

ignorant of the use of

clothing,

fire,

and earthenware, but already in possession of a cut

flint

mallet or hatchet, realized the state of nature vaguely

conceived by certain poets of antiquity " Vita feree similis, nullos agitata per usus

:

Artis adhuc expers et rude vulgus erant.

Pro domibus frondes norant, pro frugibus herbas Nectar erat palmis hausta duabus aqua.''^ It is

true that because the

ments preceded us on the

soil

imple-

wielder of

flint

of Europe,

it

does not

At

the time

absolutely follow that he was our ancestor.

when

:

the hunters of the reindeer and the

mammoth, and

perhaps the erectors of the megaliths, occupied this part of the world,

is it

not possible that the ancestors of the

Aryans, the Semites, the Egyptians, the Chinese, not to mention the Aztecs and the Incas, may already have been in possession elsewhere of a semi-civilization far

advanced in type? Yes ; but we are 1

Ovid, Fasti,

ii.

more

justified in asking for

291â&#x20AC;&#x201D;294.


8

I.

METHODS or EESBAECH INTO THK

the traces of this supposed civilization.

It

is

true that

not yet explored and ransacked the whole planet,

we have

must be admitted that the chances of any such discovery are diminishing day by day. More than twenty years ago, Mr. E, B. Tylor could already write, " There

but

is

it

scarcely a

province of the world of which

known

we

cannot say certainly, savages once dwelt here " and I would add, there is hardly one of which we cannot say ;

with equal

"Man

right,

has been progressive here."

Pre-historic archaeology thus unites with palaeontology to assure us that,

nature of things at look for

the golden age exists in the possible

if

all, it is

not in the past that

we must

it.

It has

been asserted that savages have never been able

to rise into civilization except through the instrumentality

of a people already civiKzed. transition

from savagery to

It is very true that the

civilization,

or even to the

from which we ourselves are admitted have risen to our present level, has never

demi-civiliza;tion

gradually to

been actually observed ; but there are excellent reasons

why this

link should be missing.

In the

first place,

until

they have reached a certain level of culture, nations have

no

history,

as to their

and therefore cannot themselves enlighten us

own

past

;

and as

for external observation, as

soon as savages come into contact with a superior zation, the latter deflects

and absorbs

development, unless indeed of course, is obvious

it

paralyzes

their spontaneous it.

;

This much,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;that there are some peoples worse

equipped than others for the struggle for gress

civili-

nay, perhaps there

life

and pro-

may be some permanently

incapable of rising above a low level of civilization.

But


PRE-HISTOEIC MANIFESTATIONS OP RELIGION

9

because, in running a race, the most agile are the only-

ones that reach the goal,

it

does not follow that

all

the

competitors did not start from the same post, or that the

had to pass the very points at which his less fortunate competitors have stopped. In the second place, we may well ask where savagery victor has not

ends and civilization begins. "We can of course lay down a more or less complicated criterion depending on evi-

dence collected from industrial processes, ways of living, religious

and

social institutions,

festations of the moral

and

and

all

the current mani-

intellectual

life.

shall not be able to force all the populations of

into one or the other of the

two

But we mankind

categories, unless

we

are prepared to ignore transitional cases.

In truth, the mankind may be arranged on a scale the bottom of which is lost in the extreme savagery of the Bushmen, the Tierra-del-Fuegians, the Samoyeds, the Akkas and the Australians, while the most advanced different groups of

peoples of the Indo-European race stand at the summit

and between these extreme

limits the gulf seems impos-

sible to cross.

And

sive populations

which occupy neighbouring

the scale

is

yet the space between the succes-

almost insensible, and the slightest progress

in a given tribe

would

suffice to raise it to the level of

those immediately above

reason

why we

may have

positions on

There

it.

is,

therefore,

no

should not believe that the same nation

gradually scaled

all

the steps which separated

and perhaps, even so, the steps it has already passed may be as nothing compared with those which will yet permit the most favoured it

from the culminating-point

;

nations of the future to continue their ascent

;

for civi-


10

METHODS OF EESEAECH INTO THE

I.

lization too is a Jacob's ladder,

cannot see because Point of departure in the develop-

mentof

it

^^®

tlie

top of whicli

we

reaches to the heavens.

°f*^^ meets with men, free

enough

in other matters, who readily from prei'udices r j <.••.• admit the extreme barbarism oi primitiye .

gion.

gQgig^y^

-jj^^

are nevertheless disposed to

an exception in the case

make

They would have

of religion.

us believe that the ancestors of the Semites, the Aryans, the Egyptians, and the Chinese, or at any rate the ancestors of

some one or other

of these races, started

with a

very simple and elementary industrial and social

but with pure morals and exalted

beliefs,

life,

and even in

full possession of a monotheistic belief.

In support

of this hypothesis,

they allege, in the

place, that these peoples retain reminiscences of far

elevated beliefs than those they afterwards held. to begin with, the assertion in this ing.

as

For the

worthy of

form

is

first

more

But

far too sweep-

fact is that there are other traditions, quite

attention,

which relegate the past

to a state

of religious ignorance from

which the teachings of some heroic or even superhuman founder of civilization first And, in the second

drew mankind.

place, little reliance

can be placed on these legends, either in the one sense or the other.

Peoples have asked themselves in every

age whence their knowledge of the gods came ; and since they were unable to trace

it

back to any other

origin,

they naturally concluded that

it

had been

them by the gods themselves Musset puts it,

at

an epoch, as Alfred de

" oh

Marchait

et respirait

le ciel

instilled into

sur la terre

dans un peuple de dieux."


PRE-HISTORIC MANIFESTATIONS OF EELIGflON.

11

MoreoTer, parallel questions have in every age presented themselves with reference to

arts, letters, sciences, cus-

toms, and what-not; and the answer has always been

found in similar mythical attempts

to explain the secrets

of the past.

The theory itself

of primitive purity has sought to entrench

behind a second line of defence constructed from

the pictures of certain primitive peoples, such as the

Germans and the Pelasgians, given by the classical authors. But now that we are better acquainted with uncivilized races,

we

can see that the state of moral

innocence attributed to the ihfant populations of ancient

Europe, reduces

itself to simplicity of

manners and such

commonly prevail amongst the savages of our own day where they have not been corrupted by pre-

virtues as

mature contact with idols, or even of

numina of the

civilization.

any more

Italiots, it

As

for the absence of

definite deities

than the vague

simply means that the peoples

had not yet reached the stage of polytheism and idolatry, and were stiU dominated by the savage conceptions of nature-worship and fetishism. in question

Finally, our theorists have not forgotten to appeal to

the lofty sentiments and even the theological reasonings

which occur in the sacred books of the Persians, Hindus, Jews, and Chinese, to say nothing of some of the EgypBut recent researches tend tian and Chaldsean hymns. more and more to dissipate the illusions that were natural awakened by the discovery The aureole that surof these marvellous literatures. rounded them is gone, and we have come to a more sober

enough

in the first enthusiasm

appreciation alike of their significance and of their anti-


12

r.

METHODS OF RESEAECH INTO THE

quity, thougli they

have not

charm in becoming that

of

is

less

lost their

value or even their

anomalous and more human

to say, in taking their place in the general history

human evolution. However this may

be,

we

are forced to recognize the

fact that not one of these venerable

back to the

first

documents

carries us

period of religion in general, or even of

the special systems into which they respectively enter.

"What they represent already

amongst the

made

its

selections

and rejections

The further we ascend the various races, the more com-

beliefs of the past.

towards the origins of

we

pletely do

not the naive aspiration of primi-

but the result of a sacerdotal elaboration

tive humanity,

that has

is,

assuming

see the beliefs of the Semites

the appearance of a veritable polydemonism

;

those of

the Egyptians, of a systematized sorcery; and those of the Indo-Europeans, of a kind of universal physiolatry in the course of a polytheistic transformation.

amounts to saying of these peoples,

that, as

we

we ascend towards

trace, in

All this

the origins

every instance, a growing

predominance of the forms of thought and the expressions of feeling

which characterize the religions

every age and in Evidence of Language,

But

its

all

parts of the world.

PhUology enables us j^igjier

to

towards the sources of

conclusions are

still less

mount a

little

all civilization.

calculated than those

of history to encourage the belief in

high above the level

of savages in

an early religion

now observed amongst

savages

;

for

they tend to show that, in aU cases, the abstract significations of the

words employed to render general ideas

have been preceded by concrete and even material senses.


PRE-HISTOEIC MA.NIFESTATIONS OF RELIGION.

Language

is

now

a marvellous mechanism

13

wMch

not

only enables us to register the mutual relations of things

down

to the subtlest shades,

from abstraction

but even guides onr minds,

np to the very threshold of that inaccessible region, beyond the world of forms and of ideas, where we verge upon the mysterious Eeality that is above all definition. Yet modern philological analysis takes ns back to a time at which language reduces itself

to abstraction,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;with the exception â&#x20AC;&#x201D; a

words cries,

possibly of a few onomatopoetic

closely restricted

to

number

of sounds and

each expressive of a physical action,

by man.

action performed

I need not here explain

how

human

came

the monosyllabic accompaniments of at last to

convey the idea of those actions

the part played

by the progress

conclusions,

phenomena

first,

actions

to others, nor

of language in leading

thought into conscious possession of to note that the

and that

It is

itself.

enough

in question fully justify the

that the primitive creators of our lan-

guages freely ascribed faculties like their own to things they saw around them,

way be

if

all

the

their manifestations

human

actions;

and

secondly, that their equipment of conscious ideas

was

could in any

confined to a small

embracing actions This being

so,

likened to

number

of essentially concrete notions

and physical events of daily occurrence. not only must these men have been

incapable of rising spontaneously to such abstract ideas as are suggested to our infinite,

minds by the words, God,

absolute, self-existence,

and the

like,

soul,

but they

could not even have been in a position to comprehend

them had they been suddenly communicated

to

them from


14

I.

Suck

witliout.^

whom

METHODS OF RESEARCH INTO THE is

still tlie

case with,

modern

savages,

the preponderating evidence of travellers repre-

sents as absolutely inaccessible to abstract ideas.^

missionary knows at the cost of what add, of

what

effort,

Every

and, I

may

he succeeds in introducing some

distortion,

gleams of the Christian metaphysic into the minds of the Professor

really inferior races.

you

of the Benedictine

Max

Mtlller has told

who attempted

in vain, during

a three -years' stay amongst the natives of Australia, to discover the deity to

But

in a god

who used

whom

they rendered homage.

he discovered that they believed

at last, one day, to

be omnipotent, and had created

the world by his breath, but was

now

so old

that folk took but little count of him.^

was

really

and decrepit

No

doubt this

an echo of his own teaching coming back

him in the form of who had created the

a belief in an omnipotent

earth with his breath.

natives could not help thinking of

him

to

deity

Only the

as reduced to

complete decrepitude, since he was old enough to have helped in the formation of the world and been present at the birth of their ancestors.

we require whole years to develops minds of our children, though they have the benefit of all their inheritance from the past "which thought for them," it must have needed centuries, and even millenniums, for primi^

Pfleiderer points out that if

abstract ideas in the

tive

man

to arrive at the

London, 1888, ^

vol.

iii.

same

results.

See Sir John Lubbock, The Origin of Civilization, London, 1870:viii. " On Language."

chap. 3

The Pliilosophy of Religion,

pp. 4, 5.

HihUrt

Lectures, 1878, p. 17.


PRE-HISTORIC MANIFESTATIONS OE RELIGION. Pre-hiatoric archseology.

Pre-Mstoric areliseology, in

^g

y.g|.

15

its turn,

takes

another step, inasmuch as the material

remains with which

it

deals indicate the existence of

certain beliefs prior to all civilization.

It is true that no such traces have yet been found amongst the deposits

of the very earliest period in

has been established

that

;

which the existence

is to say,

in

what

is

of

man

known

as

the Drift period, which seems to have preceded the great glacial age in Europe.

But we must be on our guard

against basing any definitive conclusion on this fact.

Eemember what happened,

in this respect, with regard

to the rest of the paleolithic age.

There, too, scholars

whose names carried authority maintained that man in the quaternary period had no religious not even pay attention to the dead

;

beliefs,

and did

but the discoveries

of the last five -and -twenty years,

especially

in the

caves of France and Belgium, have established con-

mammoth

clusively that as early as the

funeral rites, believed in a future fetishes

and perhaps even

idols.

age

life,

man practised and possessed

A glance

at the dis-

coveries that authorize these conclusions will perhaps

not be out of place.

Man

in the

a^e and째M3 funeral rites,

In the cave of Spy we can

trace

through

thousands upon thousands of years savage inhabitants whose bones exhibit such an ape-

like character that

they have supplied a new link in the

descending scale from

man

to the animals.

Armed

only

with flints to defend themselves against the terrible beasts that wandered round their retreat, exposed to the rigours of such a

climate as the present inhabitants of the

Polar regions. can scarcely endure, though supported by


16

METHODS OP EESEARCH INTO THE

I.

resources "which in comparison with those of the primitive inhabitants of Moustiers almost represent civilization, these contemporaries of the

mammoth and

the cave-bear,

whose energies one would have thought would have been

whoUy absorbed

in the struggle for existence,

still

found

time to attend to their dead, to prepare them for their future life, and to offer them objects which they might have used for themselves, but which they preferred to

bestow on the dead for their use in another

custom

of placing arms,

ancient cave-dwellers, as

who bury

their dead.

as

future

general amongst the

amongst

it still is

all

savages

It implies the belief in the sur-

vival of the personality after death, life

The

implements, and ornaments in

may be regarded

the tombs,

life.^

and the idea that the any

will be a repetition of the present, or at

same wants will be experienced, the same

rate that the

dangers incurred, and the same enjoyments tasted there as here.

All this was well explained by the ancient

Peruvians when, in answer to the question sacrificed

why

animate and inanimate objects, and even

they

human

beings, to the dead, they answered that in dreams they

had seen men who had long been dead walking about with the creatures and the objects that had been buried in Certain natives of Borneo go so far as to

their tombs. say, that

if

they throw objects that have belonged to

the deceased upon the waves, he will at once come and reclaim them.

Amongst the Patagonians, the Comanches,

and the Bagos of Africa, the custom belongings to the deceased ^ De Puydt Namur, 1887.

et Lohest,

is

of sacrificing all his

actually pushed so far, that

L'homme contemporain du mammouth a Spy


PEE-HISTORIC MANIFESTATIONS OF RELIGHON. travellers

have declared

of the family

it

interferes

17

with the maintenance

and the accumulation of even the smallest

capital.^

Traces of funeral feasts have also been found in the caves of the

amongst

mammoth

age.

We

must remember that

peoples these feasts redound, not

all uncivilized

only to the honour, but to the welfare of the dead, just as the feasts in

honour of the gods are supposed

to

be of

The natives of the Red River " that while they partake of the visible expressly declare

actual service to them.

same time

of

The observance

of

material, the departed spirit partakes at the

the spirit that dwells in the food."^ this

custom by pre-historic

the fact

man

carries with

that he had already drawn

the material object and the spirit to which

body

;

and

further, that

that spirit quitting

its

it,

therefore,

a distinction between it

served as a

he believed in the possibility of

case

and surviving

it.

But

still

more incontestable proof of this belief occurs a little later, when the objects deposited in the tombs are broken or "burned, with the idea that they

must be destroyed or

killed in order to enable their souls to follow the soul of

the deceased.

'

In certain caves, the earliest of which go back to the reindeer age (those of Mentone, for example), the bones of the 1

De

dead are painted red with

oligist or cinnabar;

and

Lucy-Fossarieu, Ethnograjphie de l'Am6rique antartique, Paris,

Bureau of Mhnography, 1884, p. 151. Capt. Grossman, Report of the 1879-80: "Smithsonian Institute," Washington, 1881, p. 99. R6n^ vol. i. pp. 245, 246. Cailli^, Voyage a Tembodou, Paris, 1830, Mortuary Customs of Dr. S. G. "Wright, cited by H. C. Yarrow in Bureau of Ethndlogy, the Report the in of Indians, the North-American " Washington, 1881, p. 191, Institute," Smithsonian 1879-80: 2

C


18

METHODS or RESEA:BCH INTO THE

I.

in our

own day some

of tlie ISTorth- American tribes,

expose their dead on paint

trees, collect

them red before

finally

who

the naked bones and

An

burying them.

analo-

gous custom has been observed amongst the Mincopies of the Andaman Islands, and the Niams of Central Africa.i The explanation of this custom has sometimes

been sought in the fact that red is the colour of spirits. Thus in Polynesia, painting an object red suffices to make it tabu,

that

is to

superhuman

say, the property of the

powers, and as such inviolable and unapproachable. it

may well be

asked whether, in the funeral rites I have

just described, the red paint

imitate the infusion of blood tion of life

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

But

was not rather intended

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

that

is to say,

to

the restitu-

in conformity with the idea so widespread

amongst uncivilized peoples that blood and

To

equivalent essences.

are

life

paint the bones of the deceased

red would in this case be to assure, or at least to

facilitate,

the renewal of his existence.^

Another custom

to

be traced in the caves of Central

France from the age of the reindeer downwards, and ^

Cartailhac,

La France

chretiennes, Paris, 1889, p. 13.

211, 220

;

Eng.

trans,

Du

prehistorique, Paris, 1889, p. 292.

Pouget de Nadaillac, Les decouvertes prehisioriques

et

les

croyances

Letourneau, Soaiologie, Paris, 1880, pp.

by H. M. Trollope, London, 1881, pp. 224, 233.

Thus the ancient Peruvians smeared the doors and the idols with sacrifice was being performed in the temples. A. E^ville, Uibhert Lectures, 1884, p. 220. The Arabs of pre-historic times used to sprinkle the walls of the Kaabah with the blood of victims and the Bedouins of the Sinaitic district still throw blood, drawn from their camels' ears, upon the door of the tomb of one of their most famous saints. Ignace Goldziher, Le cults des saints cliez les Musuhnans in the Revue de I'Mstoire des religions, 1880, vol. ii. p. 311. Cf. Exodus ^

blood while

;

xii. 7.


PEE -HISTORIC MANIFESTATIONS OF RELIGION.

19

gradually spreading as the age of polished stone advances,

burying the body, folded up upon

consists in

that the knees touch the chin.

It has

itself,

so

been maintained

that the idea -was to give the corpse the position taken

by the

man

living

as

he slept by the

day's hunting or war.^ this posture to

fire at

But no peoples

night after a

really sleep in

and

I incline to the belief that they meant put the deceased in the position of the infant in his :

mother's -womb.

Many

peoples believe that

life is

a

tion

from the Algonkins, who by a touching attenbury little children on the paths most frequented by

the

women

re-birth,

continents

of the tribe,

who

down

explain family likenesses

atavism on this principle. re - discovered

Mycenee

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

still

For the

by Dr. Schliemann exists in the

on both

to the peoples

custom

this

rest,

the

in

Andaman

cases of

or

tombs

Islands, in

of

New

Zealand, in Melanesia, in South America, amongst the

African Bongos, and amongst the Hottentots. all travellers

Almost

explain the custom as I have done above.^

Mr. T. L. Hutchinson, in describing the mummies of ancient Peru, says that " the bodies were generally placed in the same position as they are

known

to exist

The idea that the earth is the common mother of mankind reappears in all the mythologies that have made any considerable [in] during the progress of uterine life."^

1

Letourneau, Sodologie, pp. 207, 208; Eng. trans, pp. 220, 221.

2

On

the Hottentots, see Peschel, VolkerhundK, Leipzig, 1874, p. 494, The Races of Man, &c., second edition, London, 1876,

Eng. trans.; p. 460.

On

the Andamans, E. H. Man, Journal of the AnthropoOn the Araucans, d' Orbigny,

logical Institute, 1883, vol. xii. p. 144.

L'homme 3

americain, Paris, 1839, vol.

Journal of the Anthropological

i.

p. 92.

Institute, vol. iv. p. 447.

c2


20

T,

METHODS

01"

The Aryans

progress.

EESEARCH INTO THE

of the

Vedic epoch, when they

buried their dead without reducing them to ashes, implored the earth to receive the body as a mother her son.^

Did man, Idolatry in the palaeohthioage.

in this remote age, worship the i

dead alone

?

g^j^j^pg^ ^j^g Qjj^y. fQj.jjj^

leaying material traces.

We

the

first

j.t.

â&#x20AC;˘

â&#x20AC;˘

is

worship capable of

easily find the articles

;

as well expect the

ihe text of

of

may

dances performed in their honour

we might

j.

but where are we to look for traces offered to the celestial bodies, or of symbolic

deposited in a tomb of sacrifices

^i

I would remark that this

?

As for written records,

phonograph

to transmit us

the prayers or the charms which bore to heaven

manifestations of the religious ideas of

man

!

We

do possess a certain number of carved or scratched representations, however,

and

it is difficult

which ascend

to the reindeer age

not to admit that this primitive art had a

The objects represented are generally such as mammoths, reindeer, horses, serpents, often drawn upon fragments of bone or ivory,

religious bearing.

animals,

and

fish,

with a

fidelity of expression,

and even a feeling

of

life,

which are equally surprising and noteworthy. Amongst the Negroes similar representations are always fetishes, or at any rate are used as charms, and I confess that I have not much faith in any purely aesthetic impulses of savages.

With them, everything has

even art and religion.

Moreover,

a practical purpose,

it is

a

common

idea

amongst uncivilized peoples that a likeness provides the

means by which we can as Mr.

act

Andrew Lang very

upon the

original.

Finally,

appositely remarks,^ " If one

1

Rig Veda,

^

Andrew Lang, Custom and Myth, London, 1884,

x. 18, 11. p. 294.


PKE-HISTORIC MANIFESTATIONS OF RELIGION. adores a Ikard or a bear, one

is

21

likely to think that

prayer and acts of worship addressed to an image of the

animal will please the animal himself, and make him propitious."

The human and

figure appears to have been less frequently

less successfully attempted.

are known, however

;

Several examples of it and M. Edouard Dupont found a

human

rude attempt at a

figure cut in reindeer-horn in

This figure was perhaps an

the cave of Pont-k-Lesse.

The same

idol.

mammoth on

discoverer also found the tibia of a

a slab of sandstone near a hearth belonging

to the reindeer age, in a cave of Chaleux. sible to

deny the character

It is impos-

of a fetish to this tibia, for the

mammoth was already extinct in that locality at the period in question, and

M. Dupont

gigantic extinct species

points out that the bones of

still

play an important part in

the popular beliefs everywhere.^

The Dacotahs and

other

Kedskins, for instance, caref uUy collect the bones of the

mastodon and place them in their huts for the sake of the magic virtues which they attribute to them.^

should also note the

We

perforated snail-shells, fossils, crys-

and reindeer-horns, deposited in the tombs, and sometimes even in the hand of the deceased. These objects, none of which are of any practical use, tals,

quartz-stones,

may sometimes have in

served as ornaments, but must surely

some cases have been talismans or amulets.

No

doubt

all

these

remains indicate infantile and

1 E. Dupont, L'homme pendant les ages de la pierre aux environs de Dinant sur Meuse, second edition, Brussels, 1872, pp. 92 and 205 sqq. 2

Ed. B. Tylor, Researches into the Early History of Mankind,

third edition, London, 1878,

p.

322.


22

METHODS OF RESEARCH INTO THE

I.

show

gross conceptions ; but nerertheless they

that

man

was already aware of something mysterious and mighty beyond

his limited horizon

tract relations

;

that he attempted to con-

with the superhuman beings by which he

believed himself to be surrounded, on the basis of an

exchange of services; and

finally, that

capable of the idea of abstinence, that

he was already say, of relin-

is to

quishing a tangible and immediate advantage in view of a more considerable but more distant and uncertain one.

we

Passing to the age of polished stone, religious manifestations

which

I

see

the

have just defined taking

a more developed and general form ; nor are there wanting

such new elements as the worship of megaliths, trepanning the skull, and special veneration of the mallet. I shall not enter

hotly disputed,

the neolithic

upon the

of the

question,

use of

still

the stones,

erected in lines, found almost all over the

two worlds.

been maintained that they were

It has

simply commemorative monuments, like the twelve stones

from the first

''bed of

camp

Jordan which Joshua erected at the

of the Israelites after

river, to serve, as the

their passage of the

Bible supposes, "as a memorial

I will not deny that some of these monuments played the part of mementos, or even of international boundary-marks; but when I see how widespread

for ever."

^

the worship of stones Josh. iv. 5

1

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

8.

still is

It appears that within recent times it

tomary amongst the Kabyls tribes each to set

tant decision. its

was

cus-

for the representatives of confederated

up a great stone when they had arrived

at

an impor-

If one of the tribes subsequently broke the engagement,

stone was cast

315.

amongst uncivilized peoples,

down.â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Cartailhac, France

pvehistorique, pp. 314,


23

PEE-HISTOEIC MANIFESTATIONS OF RELIGION.

up on one

especially the worship of stones set

am

more disposed

far

end, I

conclude that megaliths in

to

general are the legacy and the evidence of a veritable litholatry,

whether they were worshipped in and for

themselves, as amongst the natives of India, Malaysia,

North Africa, and the two Americas,^ or

Polynesia,

whether they were regarded as the abode or the image

some superhuman power,

of

whole Semitic Pausanias

stones set

race, or the shapeless

testifies,

We

of images.^

the Bethels of the

like

masses which, as

the earlier Greeks worshipped instead shall presently see that worship

up on end was the

first

of

step towards idolatry

everywhere.

Man

in the age of polished stone, like his paleolithic

predecessor, disposed of his dead in caves

made

natural caves were wanting, he either

by hollowing an excavation

;

but when

artificial

ones,

in the rock, or

by

arranging four stones, in a sort of rectangle surmounted

by a

large slab, and covered with a

This

is

the

origin

of

the

dolmens,

mound

of earth.

which are now

universally admitted to be connected with funeral

The only question first

rites.

whether they were tombs of the

is,

or the second instance

;

that

is

whether the

to say,

dead were placed in them at once, or whether decomposition

was

first

allowed to do

hypothesis, which

its

work.

On

the latter

the more probable, the dolmens

is

Mythologie du monde mineral; legon profess^e a I'ecole d'anthroin the Revue des traditions populaires for pologie, par Andrd Lefevre 1

:

November, 1889. 2

Pausanias,

vii.

Paris.

22, 4

;

cf.

infra.


24

METHODS OP EESEARCH INTO THE

I.

were only

ossuaries, like those still

met with in some

But the very

cemeteries in European countries.

desire

to secure a kind of perpetual abode to the incorruptible

elements of the body,

is itself

importance attached to funeral

There

is

only another proof of the rites.

a certain detail, frequently observed in these

dolmens, which has not failed to exercise the minds of

when

the archaeologists, especially

the dolmens were

supposed to be the work of one particular people. the presence in one of the walls

is

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;generally the one that

more than large enough In the Caucasus and the passage of a human head.

closes the entrance

for

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

It

of a hole not

on the coast of Malabar, these holes have given the dolmens the popular name of " dwarf-houses."

The

hole

is

too small to serve as a passage for living

men, or for the introduction of the skeleton inserting the sacrifices, piled

up against the

The most probable-

interior wall.

Numbers

it

was intended

to time it

world of the living.

for the soul

of savage peoples suppose

that the soul continues to inhabit the

though from time

or even for

which moreover would be found

explanation seems to be that to pass through.

;

body

after death,

makes excursions

Now we

amongst these peoples the soul

is

generally regarded as

a reduced and semi-material copy of the body. fore requires a hole if It is

it is

into the

shall see presently that

to escape

It there-

from the enclosure.

for this reason that, at the death of a relative, the

Hottentots, the Samoyeds, the Siamese, the Fijians, and

the Kedskins,

make a

hole in the hut to allow the pas-

sage of the deceased, but close

it

again immediately


PEE-HISTORIC MANIFESTATIONS OF RELIGION. afterwards to prevent

make that

its

25.

The Iroquois

coming back.^

a small hole in every tomb, and expressly declare

it is

At

pleasure.^

desire to clear a passage for sacri-

They buried the body,

in a sitting posture, in a

round, well-like shaft, into which they

and then put

its

Koulfa, in North Africa, the same idea

was combined with a fices.

go out or come in at

to enable the soul to

and other things

cloths

left

an open hole,

close to the

mouth,

man himself could come and fetch them, and take them to others who had died before him.^ ^^ ^^ *^^ Same desire to secure a way Trepanned so that the

skuUs.

dead

f^j.

spirit to pass,

|.j^g

which best explains

phenomenon of trepanning the skull, first observed, in 1872, by Dr. Pruniferes, in the neolithic

the curious

and subsequently in tombs of Denmark, Bohemia, Italy, Portugal,

caves of Central France

;

the same North Africa, and the two Americas.* period, in

skulls

have been trepanned after death

which had followed. As Compare

Frazer,

On

certain Burial Gustoms

Principles of Sociology, vol.

p.

others during

;

for the circles of

the Anthropological Institute, vol. xv. p.

*

of these

as appeared from the reparative efforts of nature

life,

1

Some

i.

70; see

:

bone extracted, in the Journal of

also

Herbert Spencer,

ยง 94.

A. Eeville, Religions des peuples

noiircivilises, Paris,

1883, vol.

i*

252.

Clapperton, Second Expedition into the Interior of Africa, London, Note that the Greeks, too, pierced the soil near 1829, pp. 141, 142. 3

tomh to pour libations into it, under the impression that this would enable them to reach the dead more easily. J. Girard, Le 182. sentiment religimse en Grece d'Homhre a Eschyle, 1879, p. the

Broca, Sur la trepanation du crdne I'epogue nhlithique : Paris, 1877. *

et les

amulettes crdniennes

a


26

METHODS OF RESEARCH INTO THE

I.

they had sometimes been pierced and hung upon a

which survived down

necklace, a custom

to the Gaulish

period. It

would appear that trepanning

is

still

practised

by

M. de Nadaillac believes that the object is If religious, but M. Broca takes it to be therapeutic. we follow the former, we may suppose it intended to the Kabyls.

allow the soul free communication with the superhuman

powers ; or

it

might be an offering

to the

gods of a sub-

whole person, on

stitute or representative in place of the

the principle which rules religious mutilations, from the

a finger-joint to the offering of the hair or a

sacrifice of

If

nail-paring.

we

M.

follow

Broca,

it

must have been

intended to facilitate the expulsion of the spirit that

had gained entrance disorders in

it

into the body,

conformably to the theory of uncivilized

;

peoples that every malady possession.

in the Old

and was causing

caused by diabolic or divine

is

It is evidently with this

and the

New

view that savages

Worlds apply the processes of

massage and suction to their

give them purgatives

sick,

and emetics, and even bleed and cauterize them. efficacity of

empirical,

such treatment

and

it is

is

The

often real though always

invariably attributed to the departure

of the disturbing spirit.

The trepanning

of the

to explain, especially as

amongst known peoples.

dead

we

thinks brain.^

its object

was

Cartailhac,

still

practised

on the strength

by the Dyaks,

to allow of the extraction of the

But one would suppose ^

difficult

can find no similar practice

M.

of a species of embalming

perhaps more

is

that such a procedure

France prehistorique,

p. 286.


PRE-HISTOEIC MANIFESTATIONS OF RELIGION.

must have

27

left some further traces and, in any case, it would not explain the value attached to the severed ;

fragments of the cranium, as amulets. Perhaps the very object of the operation

these precious talismans

was no other than or

;

it

to procure

may have been

to provide

the soul with a special passage through which to leave the body.

It deserves notice that the trepanning has

not been applied indiscriminately to the same tomb

;

all

the bodies in

that on some of the skulls

been performed both during

life

and

it

must have

after death; and,

some cases the holes thus formed have been closed by means of disks evidently borrowed from finally, that in

All these facts are in full harmony with

other skulls.

the hypothesis that trepanning was reserved funeral rites and even burial certainly were

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

as certain

methods of

certain privileged

to particular individuals,

who, in

virtue of their rank, their knowledge, or their character,

were regarded as superior in nature to their

fellows, or

even as holding direct communication with the super-

human

world.

^^

Worship of the maUet.

and

have incontestable proof that idolatry

^g^g practised in the

artificial crypts.

and Du

In the caves of

Mame,

Oise, Eure,

Gard, an attempt at a female figure has been found,

always on the

left

wall of the ante-cave, which implies a

deliberate arrangement.

The

and even the representation recognizable.^ This rough

the same,

is

flint hatchet, 1

age of the lake dwellings

eyes, nose,

mouth, breasts,

of a necklace, are distinctly

representation,

generally accompanied

which is always

by the

picture of a

or double-headed mallet, sometimes with

Baron de Baye, Memoires sur

lesgrottes de la

Mame

:

Pari?, 18:72.,


28

I.

the handle.

METHODS OF RESEARCH INTO THE It is not surprising that the

man

of

the":

stone age venerated the instrument which characterized his civilization, the arm which assured him his rule

over nature, and which represented the foundation of

Do

his power.

we

not

Polynesians, and even the Hindus,

arms and their

to their flints

and a

homage

has been

stone hatchet,

human

almost universal to the

offering

This worship of dressed

tools ?

fortiori of the

Eedskins, the

find the

still

And

race.

even after

the discovery of the metals, these primitive implements

have been connected with the lightning and supposed to

be stones

tions

we

are

we ought

fallen

now

from heaven.

But the

representa-

speaking of force us to ask whether

not to attach the hatchet to the worship of

some feminine

divinity,

just as in the

tombs

whose arm or symbol

of a later

age

it

was,

becomes that

Thor and Taran, the Germanic and Gaulish of thunder.^

it

of

divinities

This, however, does not at all imply that

was likewise the thunder which the men of the age of polished stone worshipped under the features of a

it

woman

;

and perhaps the wisest course in the present knowledge would be to renounce all attempts

state of our

to penetrate the

transgressing

my

mystery further.

And

yet

if,

without

might suggest an hypothesis, we might not recognize in this

limits, I

I should ask whether

naive and fragmentary idol the personification of nature, or rather of the earth.

As

a matter of

fact,

the earth worshipped in feminine form by

all

we

find

peoples

1 It is interesting to note that the axe reappears in the hand of the thunder-god amongst the Chaldaeans, the Greeks (Zeus Labrandeus),

and the Hindus

(Qiva).

'


29

PRE^HISTORIC MANIFESTATIONS OF RELIGION.

wKo have

attained a suflS.cient

faculty of generaliza-

tion to be able to conceive tbe idea of sucb a power.

Going a

step further, I -would even suggest that the

may

association of the hatchet with the goddess

have been drawn from some myth

and

earth, in

which

of the

well

union of heaven

the fructifying powers of the storm

were symbolized by the

flint

conceptions amongst almost

The presence

axe. all

the peoples

of such

who have

attained a certain level of mythological development,

is

my

is

only excuse for hazarding this explanation, which

in perfect agreement with all that

we know

of the reli-

gious ideas of the occupants of France, at the

moment

when they come into contact with more advanced

civi-

lizations.

We

frequently find on the Gallo-Eoman altars a god

grasping a long mallet, associated with a goddess bearing

a cornucopia.

Archaeologists agree in taking the former

be Taran, or Taranis, the Celtic thunder-god (corresponding to the Germanic Thor), who is sometimes to

Latinized into Dis Pater or Sylvanus.

In the

latter

they recognize a goddess of the earth or of nature.^

The mallet

is

emblem of the storm, with its lifeand was also the symbol of fertility,

the

giving streams,

In Scandinavia,

amongst the Germanic populations.

when

the bride entered the conjugal abode

it

was cus-

throw a mallet into her lap ^ and the German minnesinger Frauenlob naively makes the Virgin Mary tomary

to

;

explain the conception of the infant Jesus by saying 1

Le

(lieu

gaulois

au mailM, by Ed. Flouest and H. Gaidoz, in the

Reveu archeologigue for 2

Marchâ&#x20AC;&#x201D; April,

1890.

Reveu. destraditlom populalres, 3 a.n. 1889, vol.

iv. p. 23.


30

METHODS OF EESEARCH INTO THE

I.

hammer

that " the smith from the upper land threw his into her lap."^

Most of the

rites

which I have just explained have

stamp on the age of bronze or copper,

also left their

and we can even follow them into the

first

iron age, in

which we enter almost everywhere upon the

field of

history.

be thought, perhaps,

It will

information

is

that

this

harvest of

meagre enough, and that hypotheses form

a great part even of what there

have been able

is.

But the

facts

we

to establish suffice, if not to re-constitute

the whole religion of pre-historic man, at any rate to

show

that he stood on a religious plane hardly superior

who

stand

midway

between absolute savagery and the beginnings of

civiliza-

to that of the peoples of our

own

day,

in

You will observe that, to recover the beliefs implied our data, we have had recourse to the similar usages

we

can trace amongst uncivilized peoples in the present

tion.

day, and to the recognized explanations they receive.

In

manner, to recover the use of certain pre-historic

like

implements, like

may

we turn

still

to populations

amongst

whom

their

be found; and indeed the scholars who

have attempted to re-construct the industry, the occupations,

and the manners of pre-historic savages, have

not hesitated to generalize the conclusions drawn from

such analogies with considerable freedom.

be allowed

to

beliefs

and

Follc-lore. 1

to do the

same with respect

All I ask

is

to religious

institutions.

There

is

yet another

Karl Blind, in The Antiquary for 1884,

branch of study

vol. ix. p.

200.


PRE-HISTOEIC MANIFESTATIONS OF RELIGION.

which leads us is

same

to the

results.

It is Folk-lore, that

say, the study of the traditions

to

civilizations,

they disappeared,

as

31

which previous like

left

sedimentary deposits in the lower classes.

so

many

It cannot

be

denied that these classes, specially in the country dis-

have been much

tricts,

than the rest of

less sensitive

the nation to the modifying influence of progress, and

have therefore preserved much more tual

and

social habits once

population.

Hence

beliefs

common

of the

to all strata of the

and customs prevail amongst

them which appear absolutely inexplicable

by the

scientific or

intellec-

judged

if

even the religious ideas generally

To understand the significance and these survivals, we must replace them

accepted in our day.

the genesis of

among issued.

and

the surroundings from which they respectively

Some

of

them may be explained by the

rites of the historic religions

to Christianity.

and gross

beliefs

immediately anterior

Others point back to a more rudimentary If these last

religious state.

were iacorporated

in the ancient religions, they were veritable survivals

even here, and were recognized as such by more than one writer of the period. lents

if

we

search for their equiva-

amongst the materials supplied by modern ethno-

graphy, not only find

Now

is it

nine chances to one that

them amongst one

or another of

groups, perhaps amongst almost

all,

we

shall

the uncivilised

but further, when we

study them amid their actual present surroundings, they will acquire a rational meaning,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

that

is to say,

a mean-

ing in conformity with the general ways of thought current amongst savages.

In certain departments

of France,

when

the peasants


32

METHODS OF RESEARCH INTO THE

I.

enter upon a newly -built house, they cut a chicken's

neck and sprinkle the blood in

that if the living are to dwell

the explanation given

is,

in the house, the dead

must

pass through

first

meaning

presented, the custom is without

longer so

if

we

bring

it

that

;

it.^

but

Thus

it is

no

into connection with the belief,

almost universal amongst peoples of masonry,

In Poitou,

the rooms.

all

who

possess the art

the soul of a victim buried under

the foundations protects the solidity or guards the ap-

proaches of the

with the principle, no matter of sacrifice (as

may be

And

edifice.

less

we

if

we combine

widely spread, that in the

shall presently see) the inferior

In Germany,

fine themselves to

of

often an

it is

built into the foundations

shadow

;

empty

coffin that is

whilst the Bulgarians con-

we have

To

find the explanation of

only to transport ourselves into

the ideas of the numerous peoples

soul.

ceremony becomes

the pantomime of throwing in the

some passer-by.

this last trait,

shadow

an animal for a

substituted for the superior,

man, the whole meaning of the clear.

this belief

as the spiritual part of

him

who regard

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;that

is

a man's

to say, as his

Our own languages bear witness that our ancestors The belief that the dead

were of the same opinion. have no shadows

is

found amongst the Negroes of Central

Africa, as well as in Dante's Purgatory.

imagine that there

is

a crocodile or

And

the Zulus

some other beast in

the water that can draw in a passer-by

if it

can get hold

of his shadow.^ Le^

dela comtrudion : in "M^lusine" for Jan. 5th, 1888.

1

Cf.

^

See Arbousset et Daumas, Voyagn

colonie

rites

du Cap,

Paris, 1842, p. 12.

pological Institute, vol.

x. p.

313;

d' exploration au nord-est de la Compare Journal of the Anthro-

vol. xvi. p.

344.


PRE-HISTOEIC MANIFESTATIONS OF RELIGION,

Two

years ago, I "was present at

Milan,

Crematorium in

the

cremation of the remains of a young

When

the cremation was over and they were

at

teacher.

th.e

about to seal the nrn, the mother and

sisters

deceased asked leave to put their photographs the

still

feel a

33

warm

Surely

ashes of the deceased.

of the

in,

with

we can

all

touching appropriateness in placing the likeness of

the beings he most loved during

even at the side

of the

life

dead; but

is

on the tomb or it

not strangely

significant to see a family, sufficiently emancipated to

break with the traditional routine

of

interment,

still

subject to the traditions of the most distant past, and

form

offering a

homage

of

the deceased which, in

to

spite of the intervention of the photographic art, carries

us to the funeral sacrifices of the Negroes and the JSTew

Zealanders

pagan

?

To

this

very day, throughout the whole of

Africa, they surround the dead, especially

if

he

is

a distinguished personage, with his wives and attendants

But here the

and even his favourite animals. of attenuation has not yet set

slaughter the miserable victims

husband and master

their

In China, in Marco

of our

in his life

they send to follow

beyond the tomb.

had already begun actual victims by parchment

which they burnt with the body.^

own

day, with a

themselves to

fine

whom

sacrifices

process

and they actually

Polo's time, they

to replace the sacrifice of figures,

in,

still

The Chinese

keener eye to economy, con-

writing out the schedule of their

on a piece of paper, which they then burn

upon the tomb. 1

Marco

Polo, bk.

London, 1875,

vol.

i.

i.

chap,

xl.,

in Yule's

pp. 207, 208.

D

Book of Ser Marco

Polo,


34

I.

METHODS OP RESEARCH INTO THE

The populace, however, has not a monopoly of survivals. Try the experiment, as I myself have done, of asking the mourners at a military funeral

make the deceased especially

why

oflicer's

horse follow the coffin

Some

you that

and perhaps a way

it is

them

of

they cannot say, and they suppose tell

they

and

;

they make the poor beast limp during

the funeral procession.

Others will

why

it

will tell

you

has always been

so.

a tribute to the deceased,

of compelling the horse to take part

Only one here and there, who has ethnography, will remember that the sacri-

in the mourning.

read a fice

little

of the horse

at

the funeral

is

almost universal

amongst uncivilized peoples who practise riding. indeed

we know, from

that

was once practised on a large

it

the direct evidence of historians,

by the Celts, and the Mongols. Amongst the

the Germans, the Slavs,

Caucasian Ossets

it

And

scale

appears in a transition stage, analo-

gous to that with which

we

are acquainted ourselves.

They content themselves with making the horse and the widow circle the tomb three times; only the woman

may

not marry again, nor

member

of the tribe.

to imitating the effect

may

the horse serve another

In Europe, we confine ourselves of hamstringing the horse; and

at the funeral of Prince

Baudouin

at Brussels, I noticed

that even this piece of useless cruelty

Thus the

old customs disappear

original feeling

sciousness

rises

which to

still

;

was suppressed. but now and then the

survives in the popular con-

the surface again, and throws an

unexpected light upon the past, like a flame leaping up from the embers of a dying fire. Mr. Andrew Lang reports the ease of a peasant

woman some

years ago in


PRE-HISTOEIC MANIFESTATIONS OF EELIGION.

Kerry, -who killed her husband's horse

35

when he

died,

and when reproached with her folly, exclaimed, ""Would ye have my man go about on foot in the next world ?"i Eeligions

Liturgical survivals.

j^jged

war on the

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

into

at

any

rate such as are orga-

orthodoxies

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; generally

superstitions of preceding ages

;

declare

but they

are themselves compelled to take under their patronage

the survivals which they cannot uproot.

This

is

the

explanation of traditions and practices, imbedded in relatively high religions, entirely foreign to the intellectual

and moral atmosphere

what zeal and,

Lang has

I

of their professors.

You know with

must add, with what success Mr. Andrew

applied this principle in explaining the shock-

ing and grotesque stories of the Greek mythology. has shown

when the

how

these myths were formed at a period

ancestors of the

classical

manners and ideas of savages.

may be

He

Greeks had the

The same observation

applied to more than one rite in the worships of

the present and the past.

The saying has

much

as

it

often been repeated, that dogma, inas-

represents the fixation of beliefs dominant at

a given moment, soon comes to represent the religion, or

rather the theology, of yesterday rather than to-day ; and in the

same sense one might say that the cultus generally

represents the theology of the day before yesterday, for

nowhere does the conservative toughly as in religious

custom

is

rites.

spirit

maintain

itself so

Here the dominion of

fortified by the fear of displeasing the Deity

by

altering the practices

to

have inspired, or the 1

which he eflicacity

Custom and Myth, pp.

1)2

is

of

himself supposed

which has been

11, 12.


36

METHODS OP EESEAEOH INTO THE

I.

established

by long and repeated experience

;

and thus

no religion which does not embrace in its cultus ceremonies and symbols borrowed from the whole series

there

is

of previous religions.

The lamented Edwin Hatch, 1888

of

—one

in his Hibbert Lectures

of the most lucid, conscientious,

and com-

by and dogmas Greece in the development of Christian rites has shown how the pagan mysteries gained admission, with a new significance, into the bosom of nascent

plete treatises ever published on the part played

Now

Christianity.

certainly

amongst those ceremonies there were

some which

classical antiquity itself

rowed from more ancient forms that

we may

of

worship and ;

we may

least three religions,

safely say

be found on

all

of

— given— may

which

officially

per-

hands amongst barbarous peoples.

must content myself with

characteristic examples,

Holy Saturday.

citing,

as one of the most

the renovation of

The

fire

in the

priest, after

extinguishing

the lights, re-kindles the Paschal taper

by means of a and steel.

office of all

follows

have traversed at

and the equivalent

haps even down to the explanation

I

it

see certain Christian churches perform-

still

ing ceremonies that

still

had bor-

spark struck by the old method of the

Does not

this

flint

ceremony carry us straight back to the

solar or fire rites,

which were already more or

less

touched

Avith metaphysical conceptions in almost all the ancient

polytheisms, but which reveal their purely naturalistic origin in the customs of certain savage peoples, and, for

the matter of that, in the traditions of our folk-lore also

Formerly the renovation of the

fire

?

took place in the

church on the dawn of Easter Sunday (the day of the


PRE-HISTOEIC MANIFESTATIONS OF RELIGION. Resurrection), and the fire whicli the clergy

from the

and

flint

37

had struck

steel served to re-kindle the fires of

private individuals which had all been previously extin-

guished.

This

the very ceremony which took place

is

annually at Lemnos in the temple of Hephaistos, at in that of Yesta, at Cuzco in that of the Sun, in

Eome

Mexico

in honour of Xiuhtecutli, " the Lord of the year."

the same which fire

is still

observed in kindling the

It is

sacrificial

amongst the Brahmans;^ in conducting one

of the

principal religious ceremonies of the Chippeways

;

^

in

celebrating the renewal of the year on the Zanzibar coast ; ^ in securing rain amongst the Kaffirs

;

occasion amongst the Australians

in putting a stop to

;

^

*

on every solemn

epidemics in certain remote districts of Europe

summer

in celebrating the

solstice.

Moselle, and in other localities of

the custom, on

St.

a wheel and then

the banks of the

Western Europe,

Jean d'Et^ (Midsummer-day),

it

was

to kindle

the fields or the vineyards

roll it across

good harvest.^

to secure a

On

or simply

;

was the custom

It

in certain

provinces of the Slavonic and Germanic countries to

extinguish

then to 1

all

fix a

fires at this

same season

wheel upon a pivot and whirl

J. C. Nesfield,

of April, 1884,

the

p.

it

round

till

Primitive Philosophy of Fire, in the Calcutta Review 335.

2

A. Eeville, Religions des peuples

3

J. Becker,

*

Capt. Conder,

La

of the year

non-civilisis, vol.

vie en Afrique, Bnixelles, 1887, vol.

On

i-.

i.

p.

222.

p. 36.

the Beehuanas, in the Journal of the Anthropo-

logical Institute, vol. xvi. p. 84. *

E. Tregegar, The Maoris, in the Journal of the Anthropological

Institute of s

Nov. 1889,

vol. xix. p. 107.

H. Gaidoz, Le dieu Gaulois du

Paris, 1886, pp.

17â&#x20AC;&#x201D;21.

soleil et le

symlolisme de la roue,


38

METHODS OF EESEARCH INTO THE

I.

the "wood caught

whereupon every one present took

fire,

own

a light to re-kindle his

fire.

an excellent example of the parallel development of one and the same usage on the I

have selected this

rite as

three-fold track of organized religions, popular traditions,

and savage back to

rites

source without

its original

feelings, or creating too

the meaning ideas that

now put

first

gave

one's

ceremony and the But the same process might

it

birth.

performed

far other rites,

And

if

even in the Christian Church, one

such loans are found

may imagine how they

which can have no reason for naturalistic origin. We soon come to rituals

M. James Darmesteter's

accept

wounding any

it

into a religious

every day before our eyes.

disguising their

trace

harsh a sense of discord between

be followed with reference to

must abound in

we can

and, further, because

;

assertion, that one

need

not search very long amongst the historical religions to find, often

under forms of striking identity, most

of the

essential elements of the non-historical religions.^ T,.

,

,

Here, perhaps, I shall be arrested by the

"What

comparative question: ethnography . Credit savage to be taken in evidence.

,.

tion

gion

?

j.

j.

mtact

.

an ancestral

to

populations with the preserva-

p

j.i

i.

-j.

n

-j.-

whom we wrongly

the civilized

line

you thus

.

t

oi the heritage of primitive reli-

Is not the savage,

tive, as old as

right have

call primi-

man ? Has he not as long Has he not traversed,

behind him?

in the course of ages,

an endless

alternating between progress

series of fluctuations,

and decadence, which must

have very greatly modified his original conceptions? ^

James Darmesteter, Revue

Paris, 1884, !«' trimestre, p. 42.

critique d'histoire et

de

litterature,


PRE-HISTORIC MANIFESTATIONS OF RELIGION.

And, moreover, differ to

which

39

and the rites of savages some extent from one people to another. To tlie

superstitions

special group, then, shall

we

address ourselves by-

preference in order to re-discover the primitive beliefs

Amongst some peoples ism

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

that

Amongst

to

say,

others

it is

is

the dominating system belief in

is

?

Shaman-

the power of sorcerers.

Totemism, the worship of animals

or Fetishism, the belief in the supernatural influences

emanatrug from certain concrete objects.

There are

populations which assign a single soul to

man

which give him two,

Sometimes

is

three, or

the sun that occupies the

sometimes

it

ancestor, or

even four. first

;

others it

place in the worship

the moon, the heavens, the mythical

is

some casually selected

All very true.

But

spirit."

I do not for a

that the savages of to-day reproduce, beliefs of our pre-historic ancestors.

moment maintain trait by trait, the No doubt we may

reasonably suppose that between races so far separated in time, there

must be

differences analogous to those

which part the chief sections of savages now existing one from another in matters of religion. But these latter divergences are themselves largely counterbalanced by the far more numerous and significant resemblances which fill

the narratives of travellers and the treatises of eth-

nographers.

Moreover, a really attentive examination

soon shows us that of the rites, varies

religious state of

manifestation

if

the detail of the beliefs, and even

from people

to people, the

mental and

which these ideas and customs are the

is identical

throughout.

What

does

it

matter, for example, whether the fire lighted on the

tomb

is

intended to

warm

the dead

man

in the other


40

I.

METHODS OF RESBAECH INTO THE

him from returnwith the Kaffirs ? The two ideas

world, as with the Eedskins, or to hinder

ing to this world, as

bear impartial witness to the belief that the soul

is

a

semi-material being capable of feeling heat and cold. Or, again, what does

matter that the magic operations

it

for healing maladies or securing rain

on the two continents, since they

now and

all alike

then vary-

imply that the

malady is attributed to the presence of a spirit in the body, and that certain individuals are recognized as having power over the genii quence the

is

first

Of what

of the elements ?

conse-

the nature of the superhuman beings placed in

rank, or ev^n the infinite diversity of the stories

told about them,

if

they are everywhere represented after

the guise of chiefs or sorcerers, with faculties more or less magnified, but subject to all the limitations and weak-

human nature

nesses of

The

at its lowest level of culture ?

real interest for us is

found in the underlying

analogy of reasoning and of motive

and under

;

this

aspect I afiirm that the savage of every age represents

primitive

窶馬ot because he

man

is

his authentic likeness,

that has defied the ravages of time, but because he has

remained zation

;

in,

and

or has re-entered, the at that lower level,

same stage of

civili-

the same conditions

beget the same ideas, and even the same applications of those ideas. that

man

It is only at a higher stage of

development

can even begin to free himself from a close

dependence upon external nature. point of departure, but the goal of

Liberty

human

is

not the

evolution.

This explains at once the diversity of historical religions

and the uniformity sent the

common

of

savage beliefs.

The

latter repre-

foundation, hardly yet organic, out of


41

PEE-HISTOEIC MANIFESTATIONS OF RELIGION.

which, all the great religious systems have respectively

by a process of difOerentiation and organization. Thus history, pre-historic archaeology, folk-lore, and

issued

comparative ethnography, combine with philology and

psychology to

tell us, that if

we would

re-construct the

early forms and primitive developments of religion,

must

we

of necessity address ourselves to the beliefs of the

uncivilized peoples, while collecting for comparison the

corresponding elements

still

to

be detected in the

forms of worship and in the popular survivals.

historic

Where

these three sources of information yield identical results, especially

when gathered from divers regions and races, that we have before us no accidental or

we may presume

transient facts, special to this or that people or climate,

but general facts of humanity, characterizing

all

peoples

placed under similar conditions of social development,

and therefore common

to our

own

ancestors at a certain

period of their evolution. Continuity in thVrdigious evolution,

To Complete the demonstration, however, we must See whether it is really true that gyg^

institutions of our

^jj^g

exalted religious ideas and

jj^Qg^

own

times can be connected, without

breach of continuity and without recourse to the hypothesis of an intervention from without, with the natural

development of beliefs at the lowest stage of

still

observed amongst populations

human

culture.

This

is

the question

with which I propose to deal in the present course of Lectures, at least as far as concerns the idea of Deity

and function in the universe. I do not disguise from myself the difficult and

and

of its nature

delicate

nature of the task, in spite of the positions made good


42

METHODS OP RESEARCH INTO THE

I,

by those who have preceded me have

to contend

in the attempt.

I shall

against the repugnance not only of

orthodox minds, which find the origin of religious ideas in a supernatural revelation, but also of all who, while

regarding the different religions as the spontaneous pro-

human

duct of a sentiment inherent in

nature, neverthe-

shrink from admitting the lowly character of their

less

origins

who

Yet those independent minds insist on the perfectible and progressive religion, and who have formed too lofty a

and antecedents.

love to

character of

conception of

it

to

be content

to confine it

limits of a particular revelation,

within the

ought to perceive clearly

enough the confirmation and support which their views

must

find in the thesis

which I

religion has always

far,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;and

itself is all

am

If,

so

been exalting and purifying

humble

this implies its

the more certain prospect that

do so in the future.

defending.

origin it

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;then

there

will continue to

The important thing

is,

not what

our ancestors believed concerning the Deity, but what our

own

tion of

ideas on the subject are.

God be

place for

its

less

sublime

And

will our concep-

when we have found

development in the divine plan of creation

Do what we may, we

a ?

can no longer escape the neces-

sity of submitting the religious sentiment to the general

law of evolution, which affirms the concurrent principles of continuity and progress, whether in the cosmography of the sidereal world, the geology of the terrestrial sphere,

the palaeontology of living beings, or the archaeology and history of the

human

race.

The only

position

will thereby suffer will be the old metaphysical

which made the

reality of

God

rest

which

argument

upon the impossi-


?RE-HISTORIC MANIFESTATIONS OF RELIGION. bility of our ever

having conceived of Him,

liad

43

He

not

some fashion written His signature on the consciousness of the first man. But this is simply a more refined form of the argument which undertakes to found upon in

miracles

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;that

is to say,

on the reversal of natural laws

the exis,tenee of the Author of nature.

How much

more

the conscience,

is

satisfying,

both to the reason and

the hypothesis of gradual development,

explaining, with Lessing, that the succession of reli-

gions represents the religious education of the race.

If

man

has long suffered from ignorance or mis-

conception of the Deity,

it is

simply because his educa-

tion has long been incomplete.

that

it is

human

yet completed

"Who

shall dare to say

?

I have not the least intention of discussing position of

the dogmas of the positive religions.

remain on the

field of

I shall

what may be

called

Natural Eeligion; though not using the term in the old sense of a system of doctrine embracing the beliefs

common

to every worship, but rather as including all

manifestations due to the spontaneous development of

the religious sentiment.

from expressing

my

I cannot, however, abstain

regret that the belief in the progres-

sive evolution of religions should find its chief opponents

amongst the exponents of a theology founded,

like the

Chistian creed, on an application of that very principle. Special interest attaches, in this connection, to the fol-

lowing declaration by a Catholic writer, who represents,

par

excellence,

Eoman

Catholic orthodoxy on the subject

of the history of religions, to wit,

M. I'Abbd de

Broglie,

Professor of Apologetics at the University of Paris


44

METHODS OF EESEAECH INTO THE

I.

" The Judaism of the later period shows progress from the religion of Moses, and the latter from that of the Patriarchs. in advance

....

Christianity ;

and in the Church

maintain, there

is

is

an immense step

itself, as

the great Doctors

^ progress in the knowledge of truth."

Since the learned Professor admits that Christianity-

a progressive outcome of Judaism, Judaism of the

is

religion of Moses,

and the

latter in its turn of the reli-

gion of the Patriarchs, he has only to

make one

more, and admit that the religion of the Patriarchs progressive outcome of the beliefs level of humanity,

and we

one with him in method,

if

ghall

common

step is

a

a lower

to

then be completely at

not in results.

There are orthodox scholars who seem to have taken this last step, at

any

are concerned.

One

rate as far as the of

religions

the most eminent Professors

of the Catholic University of

ago

pagan

Louvain wrote not long

" The belief in a primitive monotheism only con-

:

cerns a period too remote for historical researches ever to

This original monotheism does not affect

reach

any

of

the religious transformations and vicissitudes

which history can

trace,

The worship

subject of our studies.

and the corresponding

all,

in the night of time,

the

of material objects

state of intelligence

well be admitted by us is lost

may become

and which

as existing in

may perfectly an age which

and from which man succes-

sively raised himself, at several centres, to loftier conceptions." ^ 1

Prohlemes

^

De

la

et

conclusions de Thistoire des religions, p. 819.

methode dans Tetude historique des religions : in the Museon

of Jan. 1887,

p. 58.


45

PEE-HISTORIC MANIFESTATIONS OF EELIGION,

And

one of the most enlightened and sympathetic

M. de

defenders of Protestant orthodoxy,

Pressensd,

admits, on his side, that in consequence of a moral

humanity must have lapsed from

its

into a state of absolute savagery,

"with

primitive culture

and that from that

point onwards the study of savages

"of re-constructing,

fall,

is

the best means

some degree of

precision, the

and religious condition of the rude infancy of

social

humanity,

of

which they are themselves survivals."^

Hierographic science can ask no more.

These declarations are a significant sign

of

what

is

going on even in the minds most attached to orthodox moreover,

Consider,

beliefs.

within the

third of

last

what has come

to pass

a century as to other once

burning questions, in which the future of Christianity

and even of Eeligion was said

to

Genesis

What

?

gene-

has become of the pleadings and the

anathemas which a few years ago

the Eeviews,

filled

and the Professorial Chairs, apropos of

?

These controversies,

deep peace because solution

is

historical

it

seems, have sunk into

men have come

to

see that their

not a question of religion, but one of scholar-

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;which

is

a

way

of saying that the scholars

quite right, but that religion has taken no

harm

!

true that from time to time some brilliant essay

appears which gives battle 1

;

re-

age and authenticity of the sacred

searches into the

ship

last

into fury over the explanation of the days in

ration

books

What

be involved.

has become of the polemics which lashed the

but

itself

monde

et le

It

is

still

the airs of a challenge to

in truth these efforts

Pressense, L'ancien

were

may more

properly be

christianisme, Paris, 1887, pp. 5,

6.


46

PEE-HISTOEIC MANIFESTATIONS OF EELIGION.

compared guard,

The

to the last cartridges fired

or to

by a

charges of cavalry protecting a retreat.

actual seat of

war seems

to

be transferred to pro-

blems concerning the origin of

man and

It is easy to foresee the result.

Here,

benefit

retiring rear-

by the victory

of religion itself.

too,

Eeligion will

of Science, not only because that

victory will eliminate a source of conflict between two

necessary factors of

human

will give us a sublimer

of the

ways

culture,

but

also because it

and more harmonious conception

of God's revelation of Himself to man, or, to

employ Hegel's expression, "of the way in which the finite spirit

has come to a consciousness of

absolute Being."

its

essence as


Lecture

II.

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OE GOD.

(i.)

The "Woeship

of Nattjrb, and the

Worship or

THE Dead.

Beeoee formulating a theory on the origin q£ Eeligion, we must seek an adequate defini-

Definition o e gion.

tion of the word.

The

definitions of religion are innumerable,

no intention of discussing them here. be to pass the whole history

By

would

of the philosophy of religions

mean to use the word in these Lectures. then, I mean the conception man forms of his

which

religion,

I

relations with the

which he

so

I shall confine myself to explaining the

in review.

sense in

and I have

To do

believes

superhuman and mysterious powers on

himself

to

depend.

This definition does not touch the question whether the end pursued by religion

On

the other hand, I think

of religious

the

is it

based on a reality or not.

sharply defines the sphere

phenomena, and at the same time indicates

common and

essential character of all religious

mani-

festations. ^., ^

,.

Most writers on

.

Did Religion spring from the emotions or from the reason

religion, as distinct

particular forms, recognize that .

o

.

braces two factors ^^

^j^^

from

.

_

its

.

pertammg

em-

it ,

i

respectively

reason and the feelings, but they


48

II.

diifer as

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

two came

to whicli of these

whether the conception

-words,

of

in other

first;

the divinity engen-

dered the religious sentiment, or whether the presence of that sentiment brought ^of

man

to believe in the existence

the gods and to reason as to their nature.

According to the one view,

man instinctively attempted

to put himself into relations with the superhuman

by which he

ences

felt

himself surrounded, and

influ-

was

it

only subsequently that he thought of defining them.

No

one in our day has formulated this thesis with more

eloquence than M. Eenan,

who compares man's

religious

impulses to the instinct that makes the hen-bird "

which

sit,"

instinct spontaneously declares itself as soon as

the appropriate stage

is

reached.^

Others, on the contrary, maintain that before worship-

ping his gods, nature,

their

man must have had some

conception of

and that the sentiments he

entertains

towards them must of necessity flow from the ideas he has formed of their character and workings.

At

first sight, this latter

its side.

theory seems to have logic on

Clearly, one can neither love nor fear a being

before having conceived the idea of theless, inevitable as it

its

existence.

Never-

seems to place a purely intellectual

operation at the source of religion,

we must

recollect that

the sentiments that sprang from it must have long preceded

even the most ancient formulae

The

infant in the cradle,

of primitive theology.

when he

towards his mother or his nurse,

is

stretches his

arms

conscious of an agree-

able sensation which he instinctively associates with the

approach of certain persons, and he will manifest this 1

Dialogues pMlosuphiqves, Paris, 1876, pp. 38, 39.


THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOB.

II.

49

sentiment, or in the opposite case sentiments of repulsion

and

Ms

relations

fear,

long before

has taken to reasoning on

In

the beings around him.

with,

manner, primitive

h.e

man must from

enced more or

less vague and sympathy or repulsion, of joy

the

first

like

have experi-

unreflecting feelings of or terror, not only with

regard to his fellow-men, but with respect to the other beings and even phenomena which he supposed to influ-

ence his destiny favourably or the reverse

on which he

deified these beings

to say, attributed to

;

and the day

and phenomena

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;that

is

them a personality analogous to his was the day

own, but more mysterious and exalted

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

on which the sentiments he experienced towards them

became

religious.

Religion in anunals.

I^ ^^^

been asked, in this connection,

-whether animals can experience the

A

gious sentiment.

reli-

century ago such a question would

only have provoked a smile;

but

now

that

we have

accustomed ourselves to search in the lowest strata of animal

life

for

the antecedents

intellectual characteristics

of

physiological

which only receive

their full

expression in the best-endowed representatives of culture,

it is

no longer possible

to

^the

human

dismiss the ques-

tion of the religion of animals in this

Animals share

and

summary

philosophic fate of savages.

style.

They

are alternately exalted and humbled, according to the

exigencies of the current theory as to the position of

man

in nature.

ÂĽnder the

influence of Descartes, they

were regarded simply as machines, and their absolute automatism served to throw the liberty of the lord of Under the influence of Darwinism, creation into relief.


60

II.

we

THH GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

tend to regard them not only as the precursors

and the elder brothers

of

not to say his superiors

;

man, but eyen as his equals,

and

to represent the ant-hill

or the bee-hive as the ideal of a well-organized society.

Not

so long

ago the opponents of religious ideas used

to reply to those

a natural

characteristic of

is

who would make religion the human mind, " Eeligion

but an accident, a parasitical excrescence.

nothing

It is so far from

being natural to humanity that most savages are without it."

Now

that this position can no longer be maintained,

they have reversed their batteries, and

it is

mon to hear them maintain with equal fervour,

not uncom"Religion,

so far from being a distinctive sign of humanity, is found

in the animals themselves."

We

need take no notice of these partizan attacks, for

we have taken up is entirely unaffected by them but we must not forget that serious and impartial authors have maintained that religion exists among the animals. Four years ago, a talented writer, M. Yan

the position ;

Ende, published a thick volume of 320 pages

filled

with ingenious and suggestive observations to show that animals attribute the grand phenomena of nature to the action of powers superior to all the beings they know,

and that those powers inspire them with most characteristic sentiments of religion.^

has sometimes

let his

of the

I think the author

imagination run away with him,

and has taken advantage of the fact that we cannot check

him by getting into the animal's hide and learning what it thinks and how it thinks it. I am quite '

Histoire naturelle de la

Paris, 1887.

croyance

:

premiere partie, L'animal

:


THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OP GOD.

II.

admit that animals apparently experience

willing to

more or

51

spontaneous feelings of joy or terror in the

less

presence of certain natural phenomena

but I very much doubt whether their powers of analysis can take them ;

the length of reasoning upon the character and dispositions of the beings they imagine they find behind the

manifestations of nature.

Still less can I believe that they endeavour to enter into relations with those mysterious

beings, based on their conception of their nature.

doubtedly,

if

the word religion be

made

to

Un-

imply a simple

feeling of dependence, as Schleiermacher has

it,

we may

answer with Fichte that the dog must be the most

But (with M. de Pressens^) we

gious of beings.

decline to believe that

it is

so until the

reli-

shall

dog has combined

with his fellows to found a religion implying the desire to establish ideal relations

with the mysterious higher

This would require a capacity for abstraction

powers.^

and generalization and a perception

we

of analogies

which

could hardly expect from an animal, even were

it

Haekel's Anthropopithecus.

But

Unwarranted ttie

MeTof

personality,

them; with

jjjjg

for nascent

animals, to look for the sun to

howl in terror demand of the rock

cries of joy; to

wind and so as to to ask

humanity

to greet the return of the dark-dispelling

the thunder

1

Game

a day

"when our ancestors were no longer content,

;

to

rain

;

and

rumbling of

a shelter from the

to spy out the beasts of the forest

capture or escape them.

what were

at the

warm moon

his

own

The savage began

relations to the beings

who

E. de Pressens^, Les Origines, Paris, 1883, p. 471 [omibted in the

English Translation,

p. 458],

e2


52

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA. OP GOD.

11.

and the mental process which gave him his answer differed in nothing save in complexity from that which contemporary thought accepts thus affected his destiny

;

phenomena

to explain the course of

in.

the last analysis.

resting on the most recent

The philosophy which,

has established the constancy of the same

discoveries,

energy under

all

the varied manifestations of nature, can

only conceive of that ultimate force by relating

own

sense of effort

it

to our

springing from the consciousness of

the resistance of our surroundings to the action of our will.

The

savage, on his side, wherever he finds Kfe

and movement, of

refers

which he has any

He

them

to the only source of activity

direct knowledge,

therefore sees in

namely the

will.

phenomena the action of wills wills which he locates sometimes

all

analogous to his own,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

moving beings themselves, the celestial bodies, fire, running waters, plants, and animals; some-

in the clouds,

times in invisible beings of which he can only perceive the manifestations, such as thunder and wind. Personification of phenomena.

^ot only the

beliefs of uncivilized peoples,

^.^^ ^he traditions of

our

own

folk-lore,

abun-

dantly establish the fact that uncultivated minds ascribe the attributes of

life to

of animals to plants ;

ments

of

man

stones and waters

and the

to animals.^

feelings

The savage

animals understand his language. answer, ^

it is

because he

is

;

the faculties

and even the argu-

If the

believes that

dog does not

proud, says the Kamchadal.

See especially E. B. Tylor, Primitive Culture, 2 vols. London, Albert E^ villa, Les religions des peuples non-eivilises, 2 vols.: :

1871.

Paris, 1883.

Sir

Th. Waitz, Anthropologie der Naturvolker: Leipzig, 1876.

John Lubbock, Origin of

Civilization: London, 1870.


THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OP GOD.

II.

If the ape remains

dumb,

it is

because

ing to the Negroes, and knows that

53

lie is lazy,

if

accord-

he spoke they

would make him work.

The Eedskin talks to his horse as to one of his companions and the Arab believes that certain horses can read the Koran. The natives of the Philippine Islands, when they meet an alligator, beg it to do them no harm and when the Malagassy catch a ;

;

whale-calf, they

They

beg

its

mother

to

also believe that animals

men

with each other that

Borneo maintain that the

go away.

have the same relations

The inhabitants

have. tigers

of

have a Sultan and a

According to the traveller Crevaux, the Eed-

court.

skins believe that animals have sorcerers of their own. Perrault's

fairy-tales,

La

and the are no more

Fontaine's fables,

popular traditions of our country

districts,

than the echo, in this respect, of the actual beliefs of our ancestors of yore, and' of the Polynesians, the Eedskins,

and Negroes of our own day.

Even

trees are put

man amongst

upon the footing of equality with

comparatively advanced peoples.

power of understanding the language Ibn-al-Awam's agricultural

vice versa.

mends fruit.

of

There

men

the

plants,

and

are numerous legends attributing to certain

treatise

recom-

the intimidation of trees that refuse to produce

You

are to flog

them

mildly,

and threaten

to cut

them down if they go on bearing no fruit.' So, too, the Bohemian Slavs used to cry to the garden trees at bud or I will strip you of your even, "Bud, ye trees !

'

!

E. Chevreul on J. J. Clement-Mullet's translation of Le livre de

VAgriculture 633, 634.

d' Ihn-al-Awam in Journal des Savants, Paris, 1870, pp.


54

n.

"Water, again, suggests the idea of

bark."^

and

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD,

so of life to the primitive imagination,

movement

and

fore invested with conscious faculties everywhere.

the brothers Lander were descending the Niger

and a thick cloud rose on the horizon, their

there-

is

When

by boat boatmen

begged them to hide themselves at once in the bottom

had never seen whites

of the boat, because the river

and that was why it was raising a cloud. Cameron us of a spring in Unyamuesi which the natives

before, \

tells

declare

stops flowing

water), or finally, if

Whydah

if

they

fire

it

marwa

maji (the ordinary word for

it

guns in

they go near

calling

instead of

if,

(palm-wine), they call

it

its

neighbourhood,

At

with their boots on.^

they offer presents to the sea to induce

or,

it

to

allow the merchandize of the whites to be discharged.

Natives of Sumatra from the inland, on ocean, are said to sacrifice cakes

deprecation of

its

power

The savage has no Cailld

and sweetmeats to

difficulty in ascribing,

it

in

life

not only the

and personality, even

saw a big stone in an African

which they said it

seeing the

of injuring them.^

powers of movement, but stones.

first

circled the place three times

was threatened by danger.

to

village

whenever

This recalls the stones of

the Celtic countries which dance and turn on certain

and the Breton rock which, according to a legend cited by M. Cartailhae, goes down every year on Christmas-eve to drink at the neighbouring river.* occasions,

^

Girard de Eialle, Mythologie comparee, Paris, 1878,

^

Cameron, Across Africa, London, 1S77,

* "W. *

La

Marsden, Sumatra, London, 1783, Fra7ice prehistorique, pp. 164, 165.

vol.

p.

i.

256.

p.

p. 144.

57.


THE GENESIS OP THE IDEA OE GOD.

n,

The Lapps, the ancient Peruvians, the on the shores of

dwellers

Tanganyika,

The myth

rocks marry and have children.

which

Fijians,

65

and the

belieye

that

of Deukalion,

attributes the origin of our race to stones, trans-

formed into men, has

its

counterpart amongst the ancient

inhabitants of Central America, tors of

man were

who

say that the ances-

stones.

The same delusion recurs with respect to the atmospheric phenomena and the celestial bodies. Not so long ago the celestial bodies were universally personified,

and almost

who have

of people

The Karens

the

all

mythologies contain stories

Burmah, the Zulus, and the Eedskins

of

the "Washington

district,

make

which drinks the water out of same

sun and moon.

talked with the

rivers

and ponds.

Greeks, the Germans, and Central France.

according to Mason, cry to their children,

down

to drink.

Play no more,

dent should happen to you."^ the rainbow

when the

is

little

and shout,

The

found in the folk-lore of the Slavs, the

belief is

has come

of

the rainbow a monster

called

By

The Karens, " The rainbow

lest

some

a strange coincidence,

"the Sucker" inYolhynia; and

TJkranian children see him, they run

"Eun

!

run

acci-

!

or he'll eat

away

you up."^

The Egyptians, according to Herodotus, believed that fire was a living creature; and Cicero himself calls it The Aryans of India personified it "ignis animal." under the name as a Yedic 1

p.

hymn

Agni, the Agile; "the blessed one," has it, " who is born white and becomes

of

Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 1865

217. 2

Melusine, deuxifeme annfe, 1884-5,

p. 42.

(vol. xxxiv.), part

ii.


56

THE GENESIS OP THE IDEA OF GOD.

II.

And

red as he grows."

they

In Europe

eating up the house.

fire

if

;

any food

the fire-place while they are cooking

falls into

because the still

it, it is

has demanded the offering; and old

fire

exist

fire

the Bohemians

itself,

keep the crumbs of their repast for the

people

Dahomey,

the hearth to prevent the

sacrifices to

offer

to this very day, in

who

attribute the frequency of destruc-

tive fires to the neglect of these usages.^

Our own languages,

which have no

especially those

neuter gender or which

make but little use knew no scruple

of

us back to a period which

nitely extending the categories of

and even

of

Sometimes

sex.

times the moon, which in almost every

is of

it

take

of personality,

life,

is

it,

in indefi-

the

sun,

some-

the masculine gender ; but

known language

these two heavenly

bodies differ in gender, and can therefore be regarded as

husband

and. wife.

The same observation

applies to the

ancient cosmogonic couple of heaven and earth.

the Frenchman says, " II pleut it

not as

much

;

il

vente

;

il

When

tonne,"

is

as to declare "

blowing, growling"?

Some one is sprinkling, This "some one" may mean a

who only reveals himself through his manior may indicate a visible being, the Sky or

hidden being festations,

the Cloud, invested with the chief meteorological powers,

and at the same time with

faculties

modelled on those

of

man.

Such examples might be multiplied 1

Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol.

be called the "theology of

ii.

Miiller's beautiful studies in his

at

p.

259.

iire" in the

Glasgow, on Physical Religion

indefinitely.

Compare,

for

ancient beliefs,

I

what may Prof.

Max

Gifford Lectures for 1890, delivered :

London, 1891.


II.

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

have been content with drawing upon the standard

67 trea-

ethnography for a few characteristic facts which

tises of

man,

establish the tendency of

at a certain stage of his

mental development, to anthropomorphize everything.

The difficulty phenomena he

is

not to say what kind of beings and

personifies,

but rather to say in what cate-

gory of objects he does not seek arbitrary personifications.

who have

carried linguistic pre-

conceptions into the

study of mythology,

Scholars,

Nomina numina.

have maintained that

it

was the forms of language, at

an epoch when every verb implied a concrete act, so that every subject must necessarily be an animated being, which led to the attribution of life and personality to inanimate and material objects, nomina numina. M. Michel Brdal, one of the greatest linguists of the French school, declares

the

first

human

" However vivid and poetical

:

race,

may have been

of imagination in the infancy of the

flights

they could never have risen to representing

the rain which waters the earth as coming from heavenly cows, or the cloud which conceals the lightning in

its

flanks as a monster vomiting flame, or the sun with his

darting rays as a divine warrior discharging his arrows

upon

"Whence, then, come these

his foes

images

?

.

.

.

From

language, which spontaneously

them without man himself being aware of it."^ To refute this thesis, it is enough to recall the naive

created

dialogue, apropos of an eclipse, between the

and a missionary

who

Algonkin

of the sixteenth century, Pfere Lejeune,

certainly will not be suspected of being under the

influence of our present theories on the subject of mytho^

M.

Bi'&],

Melanges de

littSrature et de linyuistique, Paris, 1878, p. 8,


58

THE GENESIS OE THE IDEA OF GOD.

II,

them what caused eclipses of the moon and the sun. They answered that the moon was eclipsed and appeared dark because she held her son in her arms, If the moon has a and that concealed her brightness. son,' I replied, 'she is married or was married once.' The sun is her husband. He 'Yes, certainly,' said they. is out all day and she all night and if he is eclipsed or logy.

*'

I asked

'

'

;

darkened,

it is

because he, too, sometimes takes the son

that he has

had by the moon in

neither the

moon nor

said.

'

his arms.'

;

but

all,'

I

You've no sense ; they always have their bows That's

why you

'And what do they want how should we know?'"^

arms.'

Do you

can't see their

to shoot at?'

'Oh!

say that the Algonkins had already been led

to personify the celestial bodies

guage ? Well, then, here biography in which act of birth.

De

we

is

by the metaphors

catch these personifications in the

Gubernatis relates in his "Zoological

walking one evening with a brother, the to a fantastical cloud

there; that

"I

of lan-

a page of mythological auto-

Mythology" that when he was four years

sheep."

Yes

the sun has any arms at

strung in front of them.

down

'

is

on the horizon and

old, as

he was

latter pointed cried,

" Look

a hungry wolf running after the

well recollect," continues the author, "that

he convinced me

so entirely of that cloud being really a

hungry wolf running upon the mountains, that fearing it

might, in default of sheep, overtake me, I instantly took

my

to 1

heels,

and escaped precipitately into the house." ^

Relation de ce qui

s'est

passe dans la nouvelle France en Vannee

1634, Paris, 1635, pp. 96, 97. ^-

Zoological Mythology, London, 1872, vol,

i.

p.

xxiv.


II,

You

THE GENESIS OF THE IBEA Of GOD.

59

will perhaps maintain that this is simply another

proof of the influence of words on the imagination.

But

in such a case the words are but the vehicle of a thought

and that thought, though suggested

to the mind of our young mythologist from outside, might just as well have sprung up spontaneously in his own imagination as in

In any

that of another.

case,

we

see that it is not

necessary, as a certain school of philologists maintains, that before a conscious personality can be ascribed to

inanimate things, the primitive sense of the concrete

terms applied to them must have been

lost.

The unwar-

ranted extension of personality which forms the basis of

mythology

is

due, not to a " disease of language," but to

a " disease of thought," a term to an illusion

if,

may

indeed, one

which enters

apply such

into the normal deve-

lopment of man.

The testimony

of

De

Gubernatis in this anecdote

the less open to suspicion, inasmuch as

mythology

which animals appear

to con-

on he maintains that the myths in

for

;

seems

the formation of meteoro-

tradict his favourite thesis logical

it

is

as personal

and conscious agents

were originally histories attributed to clouds to which the

names of animals were given, and were afterwards transferred to the terrestrial animals which bore the same name;^ whereas in

this case

we have

the story of a

ferocious beast of earth transferred to the cloud. .

.

According

to

another

hypothesis

very

which I myself long

between the

commonly

^thrS^per-

advocated, but which I can hardly defend

^

now

received,

in the 1

Op.

same unqualified cit.

pp. xvi sqq.

fashion,

man


60

GfENESIS OE

THE

II.

THE IDEA OF GOD.

used to regard everything as living that appealed to his senses with a suflS.ciently pronounced character of distinct

image in his mind ; and

after a long series of

accumulated experiences

individuality to it

was only

that he

came

wake a

to conceive the notion of inanimate things

from which moment his progress consisted in

more and more the category beings,

and increasing that of

In confirmation

living

of

restricting

and personal

lifeless things.

of this thesis it is urged, first, that

the savage personifies everything around him

;

second,

that children look upon the articles of furniture and their

playthings as living and reasonable beings; third, that civilized

men under

the impulse of passion are capable

of treating material objects as if they were sensible and responsible agents.

In answer to

this last

argument,

it

has been urged that

even in our explosions of anger and far lose sight of the distinction

grief,

we never

so

between animate and

inanimate things, as really to suppose that the reproaches

we

or blows

upon material objects

lavish

fall

beings capable of receiving any moral impression. regards children,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;and

has been observed

it

observations have inclined it

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;that

if

me more and more

upon

As

personal

to believe

they talk to their dolls, or strike the table or

chair that they have

knocked

under the influence of ideas

against,

first

it

is

generally

suggested to them by

some one

else; unless, indeed, it is simply a conscious

piece

acting in which their youthful imagination

of

indulges for

its

own

entertainment.

There remains the argument that savages have no conception of the inanimate or the impersonal.

The


THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

II.

61

Jesuit missionaries to Canada, in their accounts published

men and

in 1635, note that to the Eedskin "not only animals, but everything else

we have

is

already dwelt upon seem at

firm this generalization.

The

alive." ^

But does

first

it

facts that

sight to con-

really follow that

because savages extend the idea of personality in so wild a fashion, that they have no sense at

between animate and inanimate that they If

we

make

all of

the distinction

Or does it only follow the wrong place ?

?

the distinction in

look more closely into the travellers'

stories,

we

shall soon perceive that the savages do not really personify

everything without distinction, but only such objects as they select in virtue of their form, their origin, their

behaviour, or their association with particular events.

To the savage,

as to the animal,

the sign of

is

life.

"The

zi

it is

movement which

(supernatural power),"

observes Professor Sayce, in his Lectures on the beliefs of the ancient Babylonians,

manifested

life,

and the

was movement." that objects

2

"was simply

test of the manifestation of life

Only we must

may be

that which

note, in the first place,

movement

credited with

in virtue

of highly complex and indirect deductions, as

from the phenomena of rock and stone worship in the second place, that if

any object

is

we ;

see

and,

supposed to be

capable of acting at a distance, even though no spon-

taneous movement takes place, this carry with ^

Pfere

it all

Lejeune,

that

Relation de ce qui

France en Vannee 1634, 2

is essentially

is

quite enough to

implied in the power

s'est

passe dans la nouvelle.

p. 58.

8a,yce,Hibhert Lectures. Religion of Ancient Assyria

London, 1888,

p.

328.

and Bahylonia,


62

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

II.

Thus man comes

of locomotion.^

to personify not only

everything that he supposes to move, but everything

which seems

to exercise

an influence upon him implying

the existence of an active

-will.

" The Indian [in British

Guiana]," says Mr. E. F. im Thurn, "is occasionally hurt either by falling on a rock or by the rock falling on

him

and in either case he attributes the blame to the

;

rock." 2

Even

so

advanced a people as the Athenians

present us with the spectacle of the tribunal of

the

Prytanies condemning to death inanimate objects which

An

had accidentally caused the death of a man.^ gous custom

is still

analo-

found amongst certain tribes of Indo-

China, where a tree which has caused any one's death

must be completely hacked

We

to pieces.*

must not suppose that the savage's investigations

him However exuberant

into the nature of the creatures about

is

by simple

his imagi-

nation lation.

curiosity.

may be, nothing is less in his line than specuWith him, everything has a practical end;

and in the present instance the end tions,

inspired

is to

form connec-

advantageous to himself, with the extra-human

beings by which he "believes himself to be surrounded.

And 1

since he has assigned to these beings motives

and

" The king of the Koussa Kaffirs having troken off a piece of a

stranded anchor, died soon afterwards, upon which

looked upon the anchor as they passed near

it."

alive,

and saluted

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Lubbock, Origin of

it

all

the Kaffirs

respectfully

whenever

Civilization, p. 188.

^ E. F. im Thurn, Indians of British Guiana, in Journal of the Anthropological Institute, voL xL 1882, p. 370,

^

Pausanias,

*

Ch. Ploix,

i.

28, 10.

La

Paris, 1888, p. 4.

nature des dieux, etude de mythologie comparee,


THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

II.

reasonings analogous to his own, that he can act after to be

upon them hy

naturally thinks

lie

just such measures (here-

enumerated) as would be efEective with him-

And, from the other

self.

63

side,

he cannot but

feel,

gratitude for their benefits, terror in the face of their

wrath, even a certain confidence in their protection,

and depression or indignation when deserted by them.

Now,

_ ,. .^ Deity implies .

'

are all these elements, even '

when

_ _

religion?

whatever their nature,

we can

_

united and combined, enough to constitute

superiority

The

may be

secure their help

human

idea

that

certain

of service to us,

by the same means

beings,

and that as

are

society,

even when we add the feelings

of hope, fear, gratitude,

and anger, provoked by such

current in

relations, is

relations of

no more than what springs out of the mutual

men

themselves, without

its

constituting a

religion.

Eeligion, at any rate as I have defined in addition to this, something exalted

the character of the being adored. riority

and mystery may be only

deified

may have

it,

implies,,

and mysterious in

Note that the supepartial.

The being

the advantage over his worshipper only

some one important faculty, or may escape his comprehension under some one aspect only. It has often in

been said that the savage can have no idea of the supernatural, for the excellent reason that in his eyes every-

thing

is

natural, even the impossible.

justified if it

means

that,

The

assertion is

having no idea whatever

regular course of things, he cannot distinguish

of

a.,

between

what contradicts and what does not contradict such a course; but although he has no notion of the supernatural.


64

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

ir.

he cannot be without an idea of the extraordinary and the unforeseen, or without the power of distinguishing

between the

facts

he understands, or thinks he under-

and those which he considers incomprehensible. Experience has taught him that he increases his power stands,

by arming himself with a knotted branch flint;

or a chipped

that he increases his chances of success in securing

game by

setting certain traps for animals

;

that he can

by getting upon the trunk of a tree; and can provide against thirst by keeping water in a But neither the way in clay vessel, baked in the sun. which he gets his implements, nor the result upon cross the river

which he

can

rely,

anything

has

He

extraordinary or

dealing with foreseen and

mysterious about

it.

forseeable effects,

which are dependent on his own

of

will,

by means of simple which he knows the secret and feels himself

which he can reproduce methods

is

indefinitely

to be the master.

But

side

by

side with all this,

which may be considered

normal, he comes across phenomena produced by methods

which he cannot explain, and by beings which he can neither control nor even understand.

Jarvis tells us

when the North American Indian cannot understand a thing, he says it is a spirit.^ Garcilasso de la Yega informs us that the ancient Peruvians applied the name that

of huacas to " all those things which, from their beauty

and excellence, were superior

to other things of a like

kind;" further, " things that were ugly and monstrous, or that caused horror and fright;" and lastly, "things which Appendix to J. Buchanan's History, Manners, and Customs, of the North American Indians, London, 1824, p. 228, '^


II.

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

65

Amongst the Chinese, according to the Yuen-Men lui-han, as cited by M. Ldon de Eosny, the name of Chin is given generally

were out

of the usual course of nature."^

to the producers of clouds

and the provokers of -wind and

and everything that seems extraordinary in the moun-

rain,

tains, the forests, the rivers, the lakes, the rocks, hills.2

The Todas

and the

of central India call their deities Der,

and Colonel Marshall

tells

us that amongst them there

is

a tendency for everything mysterious or unseen to ripen into Der.

In the

word

Fiji Islands the

which

kalu,

is

used to signify the gods, is also applied to everything " The ]S'egroes," says a traveller, great or marvellous.^

"worship everything extraordinary and

pump on

the Negroes of the Guinea coast saw a

first

board a European vessel, they thought lous creature, " since

it

natural property

descend."*

For the most

is to

could

it

When

rare."

a very marvel-

make water

rise

up whose

however, the sphere of the extra-

part,

ordinary extends, for the savage, far beyond what

should consider all

its

or cunning, and

1

^

It includes, for instance,

limits.

the wild animals which excel

thing

tioii

due

we

man

in strength, agility,

whose proceedings always have some-

mysterious in

them.

Roijal Commentaries, bk.

ii.

includes

It

chap.

iv.

;

C. R.

(Hakluyt Society), London, 1869, 1871,

Leon de Eosny, Les

origines

du Taoisme,

vol.

thei

plants,

Markham's i.

p.

transla-

116.

in the Revue de Vkisioire

des relvjions for Sept. Oct. 1890, vol. xxii. pp. 171, 172. 3

T. "Williams, Fiji

1870, *

p.

Sir

and

the Fijians,

London: Hodder and Stoughton.

183.

John Lubhock, History of

Civilization,

F

London, 1870,

p.

202.


66

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

II.

"whose slow growth and periodical blossoming depend

upon

forces alien to the intervention of

the sun who, defying

all interference,

dealing out alternate

life

and death

man. It includes

pursues his course, ;

the moon, that

strange and changing being, which the popular imagination is

planet

still ;

unable to disentangle from the

our

affairs of

the atmospheric phenomena, beginning with the

thunder-storm, whose sinister rumblings throw

all ani-

mated nature into terror; running waters, that sometimes fertilize

and sometimes lay waste, and whose continuous

and spontaneous movement nothing can There

is

nothing, even

not become an tions

enemy

down

arrest.

to the rocks,

which may

or an ally according to the associa-

which chance events have thrown round

which may not acquire a character

all

nothing

it;

the more active and

mysterious in proportion to the barriers the imagination

has had to pierce in order to draw

it

into the category of

"The

conscious and animated beings.

A-shi-wi,

or

Zuhis," says Mr. Frank Gushing, "suppose the sun, moon,

and

stars,

the sky, earth, and sea, in

and elements, and

all

all their

phenomena

inanimate objects, as well as plants,

animals and men, to belong to one great system of conscious and inter-related relationship

seem

by the degrees

to

organism; at

least,

this

if

of

not wholly,

system of

life

the

finished, yet the lowest

the lowest because most dependent

least mysterious

sidered ....

In

man, the most

is

all-

which the degrees

be determined largely,

of resemblance.

starting-point

and

in

life,

The animals ....

are con-

more nearly related to the gods than

because more mysterious

is

man,

Again, the elements and


THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

ir.

67

phenomena of nature, because more mysterious, powerful, and immortal, seem more closely related to the higher gods than are the animals." ^ It seems clear that the reason

worshipped

is

why living man is

precisely because he

The only exception

is

wisdom from the ordinary

of their authority or their

conditions of humanity

say of savage or primitive humanity.

is to

Lubbock

known.

in the case of certain persons

withdrawn by the prestige

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

Sir

that

John

points out that the adoration of the king

only found in cases where he

say that no one

is

speaking of a king of Loango

The

who

equal of a god, adds that no one

This

is

-

assert that

to his familiar companion.

eat or drink.

life.^

a hero to his valet

and in the same way we may

is

powerful enough to

is

withdraw himself from the common

god

too well

is

seldom

is

is

The French de - chambre no one

is

a

traveller Battel,

worshipped as the

allowed to see him

a wise precaution for a royal deity

to take.

On

"the

even when

other hand, certain alive,

men may be

worshipped,

on account of some extraordinary cha-

which exhibits them in a mysterious light. Thus whites have often been regarded as superhuman racteristic

beings by the red, yellow, or black savages who see them for the first time. But just the same thing may

happen in the case

of a hitherto

unknown

animal, as in

Cortez, or on the west

Mexico with the horse ridden by coast of Africa with Monteiro's ass.

However ondoyant

Zuni Fetiches, in the Publications of the Bureau of Ethnology, "Smithsonian Institute," 1883, vol. ii. p. 9. 1

*

Origin of Civilization,

p.

234.

r2


THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

68

II.

et divers

man may

be, lie is far less mysterious to the

savage than the celestial bodies, trees, or even stones are.

To say mystery ^^'

a kind of fascination

like

some account

of

it.

draw him towards the

he may learn to give himself

object of his terror, that

lies at

Man,

fear.

the animals, fears the unknown, even though

of fear in

^째^^

say

is to

This two-fold feeling unquestionably

the root of religion

;

and, in this connection, the

Latin poet might well say that fear was the

first

creator

of the gods

"Primus

But

it

was not

only evil that

in orbe deos fecit timor."

fear alone that created them.

man

It is not

expects from his deities, nor does he

confine his adoration to the maleficent powers of nature.

Nature herself has always a two -fold aspect, the one '

fruitful

and propitious, the other cruel and destructive,

both reflected in one of her most complete and transparent personifications, the great goddess of the Phoenicians "

Diva Astarte hominum deorumque Eursus eadem quae

If

man

es pernicies

dreads the beings

vita salus

mors

who may

interitus."

injure him,

why

should he not be equally capable of hope, trust, love,

and gratitude, towards those from

whom

he hopes

receive benefits or has already received them.

we turn religions,

to the

to

Whether

most rudimentary or the most elaborate

we always

find the

superhuman powers, taken

collectively, arousing sentiments at once of

attraction in the worshipper.

dread and of

The former may sink

the most abject terror, the latter

may

rise to the

to

most


THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OV GOD.

II.

exalted love

combine

No

to

;

69

but, in whatever proportions, they always

produce what we mean by veneration.

doubt

man may

disentangle this mingled character

But whenever he conceives of certain superhuman beings as absolutely evil, you may be certain that he will counterbalance them with others that of his deities.

are absolutely good,

even

if,

for

obvious reasons, he

One can Ormuzd without Ahriman, and the Persian theology looks forward to the time when the latter shall be destroyed; but no one ever conceived Ahriman without Ormuzd, even amongst the sects who reserve their homage for Ahriman on the ground that Ormuzd does not need it. devotes his chief attention to the former. conceive

You

perceive that the sense of dependence

enough

to

to

adore

his

own

produce religion

;

otherwise

everything that he limbs

down

is

not

is

man would have

dependent on, from

to the force of gravitation

which

prevents his forthwith knocking his head against the

As M.

stars of heaven.

Edville observes, the sense of

dependence furnishes no issue from opposition and antithesis,

whereas the very purpose of religion

is

harmonize opposition as to solve the antithesis.^ religious sentiment is not fully satisfied until

man

so

to

The feels

himself one with his deities. The

sense of

^l^lt^ov in Keligion.

On

the other hand, neither

is

the sense of

mystery, of the great Beyond, the Infinite, ^jjg

Supra-scnsible,

man

enough in

itself to

pro-

assigns

some positive content

to this purely negative conception.

The savage standing

duce

*

religion, unless

A. E^ville, Prolegomenes de VhisUnre des

pp. 25, 26,

religions, Paris, 1881,

('


70

THE GENESIS OP THE IDEA OF GOD.

II.

on his coral island, to take Professor

Max

Miiller's

example, might have speculated to his heart's content on what there lay beyond the horizon, but he could hardly have worshipped that invisible continuation of the tossing ocean or the azure firmament, had he not attributed to I

affairs.

the power of interposing in his

it

am

ready to admit

the conception of the infinite

finite really implies is

own

that the perception of the ;

but

it

only a relatively advanced philosophy which succeeds

making the implicit idea explicit and if the savage whether that "Beyond," speculates on what lies beyond the boundaries of which he cannot apprehend, stretch in

;

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

behind the sights

of nature or retreat within the inner

consciousness of beings

the existence in be, in

it

some actual

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

of a

it

is

only because he suspects

power with which he

is,

or can

relation.

I ought to add, however, that the eminent Indian scholar

whose views I

am

discussing has done

his recent Gifford Lectures to

have been urged, in

much

meet the objections which

this connection, against the defini-

which he gave from the Chair which

tion of religion

have the honour of occupying at this moment. infinite

per

se,

in

as a

I

" The

mere negative, would have had no

interest for primitive

man; but

as the background, as

the support, as the subject or the cause of the finite in its

many

period of

came in from the earliest human thought."^ To put this explanation manifestations,

above the reach of

it

criticism, it is only necessary to insist

on the part played by the practical element in the 1

F.

Max

Miiller,

London, 1889,

Natural Religion

p. 149.

:

the Gifford Lectures for 1888

:


THE GENESIS OP THE IDEA OF GOD.

II.

genesis of religion

—that

is to say,

71

the influences

wMch

the mysterious agents thus deified were supposed to

upon human

exercise

and man's desire to enter

affairs,

into such relations with

them

might turn

as

to his

own

advantage.^ „

Amongst °

.

.

Uoniusion of concomitance

and

the factors which contributed

most actively towards increasing the num-

......

causality.

ber 01 the primitive deities the

we must

give

rank to the confusion of concomitance, or rather

first

succession, with causality, together with the assimilation of

dreams Post

to reality.

hoc^ ergo

propter hoc,

he endeavours to get

own

not, in our

man's

is

argument as

first

Do we

at the reason of things.

day, hear causation defined

by the most

advanced psychologists as "a constant and uniform

The savage omits the

tion of succession"? of uniformity

and constancy, or

at best accepts a

That

accidental repetitions as enough.

rela-

qualifications

few

the differ-

is all

ence, but it is vital.

Eoemer stone,

tells

us of a Negro

amongst his domestic

who

once showed him a

fetishes, to

which he attached

great value, because he once stumbled against

threshold of his

Mr. E. F. im Thurn says

tant expedition. of British

Guiana

way abnormal notice

—and

if,

:

or curious

—and

shortly after,

of the Indian

none such escapes his

any

evil as cause

The succeeding volume

evil

and

happens effect

:

to him,

and here

of Gifford Ledures, viz. Physical Eeligion,

London, 1891, has contributed conception.

at the

" If his eye falls on a rock in any

he regards rock and 1

it

hut as he was setting out on an impor-

still

further towards dispelling the mis-


72

THE GENESIS OP THE IDEA OE GOD.

II.

again he perceives a spirit in the rock."^

how

This explains

peoples so far distant from each other as the Finns

and the Eedskins, can unite in attributing the showers of spring to the cuckoo

pany

;

fertilizing

for the -former accom-

Perhaps this same coin-

or closely follow the latter.

cidence explains the origin of the Cretan

myth

in which

Jupiter transforms himself into a cuokoo to impregnate

Juno.

This tendency to attribute events to some pheno-

menon with which they

they have really nothing to do, recurs amongst lized peoples is testified

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

itself in

by the "fetishes"

ill

all

uncivi-

civilized peoples, too, for that matter, as

of gamesters in our

days, and other similar superstitions.

the good or

which

are associated, but with

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;But

this idea of

luck attached to some talisman

any way

religious,

and

it is

is

not in

a mistake to place

the origin of religion in fetishism so understood. all

own

It

is

very well to declare that the deity grew out of the

amulet, but

we have

to

be shown how

men

passed from

one idea to the other; and here our teachers, in their turn, point to a concomitance in lieu of a cause.

The

idea that a material object can exercise a certain influ-

ence or produce certain events in virtue of some mysterious connection religious belief

it

has with them, can only be called a

when

this connection is ascribed to the

intervention of a superhuman being incorporated in the object or using

it

as its tool.

The Negroes themselves

distinguish between their fetishes (gris-gris, jou-jou,

mokissos), which they regard as

superhuman beings,

or

rather as possessed by such, and their amulets, or talismans 1

Journal of the Anthropological

Institute, vol. xi. p. 370.


THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

II.

73

proper (mondas), which, they do not regard as living and

But who does not

conscious.^

see that this already pre-

supposes a belief that such superhuman beings exist It is easy to

understand how,

when once

?

the idea of

mysterious superhuman personalities has been formulated in the imagination, this unwarranted extension of

may indefinitely increase the number of the Any conceivable object may happen to be assowith any conceivable event, and so may come to

causality

gods. ciated

be regarded as

already familiar to the of that cause

new

a

human mind,

the personification

and the primitive pantheon

;

by a process

follows,

is

enriched

The

.

fantastic associations

the waking

which occur in

much

as

the real associations which casually occur

m

dreams contribute

to reality.

.

life.

dreams

to the result as â&#x20AC;˘

.

,

Animals dream, but do not remember

the savage not only remembers them, but

;

believes they are actual experiences.

agreed on this point, and

it

Travellers are

would be wearisome

the proofs of the fact, since

it

is

the people he has talked to

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

in a word,

as they did while he

was dreaming.

If

these people or things have played the part he to assign to his gods,

why

seen,

the details

of his dreams, appear to the savage as real after

awaked

The

which he has all

all,

to repeat

not contested.

places which he has visited, the things

tomed

by

god.

., â&#x20AC;&#x17E;, Ihe assimilation of dreams

their

Then

its cause.

he has

some

is

of

accus-

should he hesitate to

rank them henceforth amongst the superhuman powers

which he must ^

Compare du

London, 1861,

conciliate or serve ? Chaillu,

vol.

i.

p.

Transactions of the Ethnological Society,

307.


74

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

II.

In

under the action of

brief,

this two-fold influence,

by deifying everything

the savage ends

" everything

it,

In truth, whether we

was a god except God himself."

own time

take the savage of our

This

in nature.

the stage at which, as Bossuet puts

is

or his pre -historic

what he worships,

counterpart, the difficulty is not to say

but to find anything that escapes his adoration, .

â&#x20AC;&#x17E;,,

The same associations, real or imaginary, which havo thus indefinitely multiplied the number of the gods, have also served con-

^.

The function

\

_

of the

first

siderably

extend the

to

sphere

attributed to each of them.

demanding had

action

of

Men

.

originally

probably began by

each being or each object which they

of

deified

.

only those

services

which

it

was

really

Thus

suited to render in virtue of its actual nature.

they invoked the sun for warmth or fertilization; the

moon,

to dissipate the darkness

inflict thirst;

the cloud, to drop

the wind, not to throw

down

abundant fruit; ferocious property of the suppliant.

;

the spring, to slake or

its

waters or to drift away;

the hut

;

the tree, to bear

and

beasts, to spare the life

But one day

it

was observed

that the clouds before breaking gathered round a certain

was

peak.

It

At

moment

ill

the ;

it

was the

this

mountain then that made the

of the full

moon

rain.

the savage would

fall

moon then which had sent his disease, therefore take it away. As he started

full

and which could

out on a successful hunting expedition he met a serpent serpents then

had the power

of securing

they could bring success in the chase,

game; and

why

if

not in war"

as well ? Or the savage had dreamed that the sun made him promises or presents;

and other enterprises


II,

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OE GOD.

75

must have happened, and therefore might happen again. Another night he had seen a neighbouring rock this

change

itself into

a roaring lion, and hurl

enemies of the tribe

;

henceforth he will

itself

upon the

know where

to

turn in order to secure victory.

Here

is

an example in which the dream combines with

a purely accidental coincidence as a factor in the result,

M.

E. de Backer, in his

tells

us of a native

work on the Indian Archipelago,

who had found

a stone covered with

small fishes, and next night saw a genius in his sleep.

This genius told him that he was the stone

and that

itself,

he received due homage he would send him abundance

if

The author adds that the fetishes or idols of scraps of wood or stone, hollow crocodiles' the Dyaks of fish.

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; barkâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;were

human statuettes always made in consequence on

teeth, little figures painted

cut in

almost

sticks,

some dream in which the native had seen a gigantic "Kambi" or a hairy and terrible "Antung" appear.^

of

In the same way, Mr. Powell

Eedskins every Indian " fetish, revealed to

produced by

him

us that amongst the

provided with his charm or

is

in

tells

some awful hour of

Thus men not only come ferent beings, but to invest

to deify all

human being they may

p.

Valentyn, cited by

De

manner of

them with powers

and so extensive that they no longer

'

ecstaey,

fasting, or feasting, or drunkenness." ^ dif-

so varied

know what

super-

not require under any given

Backer, L'Archipel Indien, Paris, 1874,

222. ''

Powell,

of the p. 41.

Myths of the North-American Indians,

Bureau of

Etlinologij,

"Smithsonian

in the Publications

Institute," 1881, vol.

i.


76

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

II.

circumstances; and in doubtful cases nine gods out of

ten are ready to aid the worsliipper, as the Californian

savage gave to understand

when he was asked what

it

was he muttered in order to secure the recovery of a sick man, and answered: "I talk to the trees, and to the springs, and birds, and sky, and rocks, to the wind, and

and leaves

rain,

;

beg them

I

all to

help me." ^

" The cold has spoken to me," cries the author of the

song which serves as a prelude to the Finnish Kalevala, " and the rain has told

me

her runes

;

the winds of

heaven, the waves of the sea, have spoken and sung to

me

the wild birds have taught me, the music of

;

my

waters has been

master."^

Might one not fancy one was

listening to the prema-

ture echo of a great contemporary poet detail of nature to bear witness to his lac,

Que

calls every

vanished joy ?

tout ce qu'on entend, ron voit ou

is

:

lis

out aim^

ron

respire

l^

mere play of imagination or

speech in the modern poet, of to-day,

who

rochers muets, grottes, forยงt obscure,

Tout dise

But what

many

and was

is to

figure of

his savage contemporary

to the primitive

savage of ancient

times, the expression of a general belief in the animation of all nature

with 1

its

and the

possibility of entering into relations

personified manifestations.

Bancroft, Native Races of the Pacific States, 1875, vol.

i.

pp. 358,

359. 2

Kalevala, chant

London, 1884, '

i.

p. 165.

Lamartine, Le Lac,

As quoted

in A. Lang's Custom

and Myth,


THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

II.

77

The belief in the reality of dreams acts on the development of religious ideas in yet another direction, as we see

from the conception

of the "

double" and the idea of

survival.

The

The man who

idea of

t e "double.,

wakes again

tures,

in

his

dreams has just

encountered the most extraordinary advenin the very spot and in the very

which he occupied when he fell asleep. He remembers having traversed immense spaces, accom-

position

plished difficult enterprizes, perhaps received blows or

wounds, and yet his limbs, far from being fatigued,

have found fresh strength and subtlety.

He

has just

been conversing with individuals who will deny the existence of

the interview, and in case of need will

support their denial by an incontestable

alibi,

and per-

haps he himself will pay them back in their own coin of

Hence the only possible explanation an explanation which must present itself spontaneously to the mind of the savage as soon as he endeavours to remember his dreams and to give himself some account is that man is composed of two parts, one in of them

denial the next day.

some way enclosed in the other one external, formed of the body which remains stationary during sleep; the other internal, which could cast the body like a garment and go

its

way, as the Greenlander expressed

it,

" to

hunt, dance, and pay calls."

The Australian Kurnai who was asked whether he really believed that his yambo could "go out" while he was

asleep,

when

immediately answered

I sleep I go

:

"It must be

so, for

to distant places, I see distant people


78

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

II.

and speak with those that are dead."^ We have but to open the first treatise on ethnography that comes to hand, and we shall see that the same reasoning I even see

prevails

Greenlanders,

skins,

At

amongst the Negroes,

Kaffirs, Polynesians,

and natives

South America.

of

the outside, some of them, such

Eed-

Karens of

as the

Burmah, have observed that in dreams one can only visit Some the places and people one has already known.

wake

peoples, such as the Tagals of Lucon, refuse to

sleeping

man

suddenly,

give his soul time to get into

Here we

its

a

you must

because, they say,

abode again.

an opposition beginning

to shape itself

between the body and what we have come

to call the soul.

The savage

see

doubtless far from regarding his interior

is

personality as an immaterial entity, conceived of abstraction,

and reduced

to a

pure psychic

by

force

force.

He

can conceive neither a being nor a force except under a material, or at

fore

endow

any rate a

sensible,

his ego with the traits

form

;

he will there-

under which his own

personality and that of his companions appear in his

dreams.

It will thus

be a reduction, or rather a

flexion of the body, vaguer, paler, half-effaced.

what has been

is

called the double, identified

This

by many

peoples with the shadow produced by the body, with reflexion in water, with its

re-

image seen in the pupil

its

of

the eye, and so forth.

The

sorcerers of Greenland describe the soul as a

pale soft thing, without nerves, without bones, with'

W.

Howitt,

On some Australian

Authrojjological Institute, 1884, voL

Beliefs

xiii. p.

:

ia the Journal of the

189.


THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

II

out

When

flesh..

one would seize

it,

79

one feels nothing.

Is not this exactly the animula vagula blandula^ hospes,

comesque corporis, under ceived his

own

tlie traits

of which.

Hadrian con-

And

spiritual principle?^

in our

own

day, too, does not the description precisely correspond

physiognomy

to the

of the spirits

which our mediums

profess to bring before us ?

This "double" of the personality has no

Worship of t

ea

e

.

religious significance in itself ; but the deduc-

drawn from

tions

it

go much beyond

Amongst the beings with whom

its

mere existence.

the savage enters into

communication in his dreams, some have passed from Perhaps he himself has

What

slain,

life.

not to say eaten, them

conclusion can he arrive at but that

man

!

does not

altogether die, and that the disappearance of the body

does not involve that of the "double"?

Thus when

Achilles has clasped the shade of Patroclus and has seen dissolve

it

under his embrace

like

smoke, he does not

to cry, "Yerily, there is a certain soul

fail

and semblance

even in the abode of Hades, though, substance there be none." ^

Animals do not appear idea of death.

at the abstract

fainting and catalepsy.

sleep,

the efforts to revive the corpse and ensure

preservation which, 1

have arrived

Primitive man, too, must have begun by

confounding death with

Hence

to

we

find even

JElius Spartiaiius, adrianus, cap. 25.

its

amongst the animals, In the Scriptores

Ilistoriai

Augustce. ^

Iliad, xxiii.

7rdp.Tra,v.

vitals,

103,

104.

^vxri koI

ei'SwXoi/"

The word ^peves must be taken in

substance or body.

its

arap

t^pivis

ovk evt

physical sense, midriff,


80

THE GENESIS OF THE

II.

IDEA.

OF GOD.

and wMcli survive iu the customs of many peoples long after the idea of death has established itself in their

Even

minds.

Marco Polo the Mongols

in the times of

sometimes kept their corpses as long as six months, and

them food every

offered

dissolution of the

Obviously

day.^

body which

it

was the

finally revealed the differ-

ence between the apparent suspension and the definitive cessation of the vital functions.

The

however, continued in the neighbourhood

double^

of the living,

and maintained

According to some,

sleep.

them during the Torubas of

relations with

such as

AYestern Africa and the Yeddahs of Ceylon

dead who come to

Maoris of

like the

go to

visit the living

New

Zealand,

it

is

the

according to others, it

is

the living

who

Again, the double has myste-

the dead.

visit

;

rious powers in dreams

possesses in a less degree,

which

when

it

does not possess, or

united to the body.

It

can assume the most diverse and terrible forms, can transport

itself,

of lightning

or can act at a distance, with the rapidity

—in a word,

disproportioned to

its

can produce results absolutely

previous powers, and that too by

the most extraordinary means. kill

themselves in order that,

they

may be

ful enemy.2

the Hindus, '

^

tlio

in the spiritual state,

able to take a fuller vengeance on a power-

The same thing has been observed amongst who have likewise been known to kill some

The Book of Ser Marco Polo, by H. Yule, second edition

1«75,

vol.

Polynesians sometimes

when

vol.

i.

:

London,

p. 208.

Gerland, quoted by Edville, Religions des peufles non-civilises, ii.

p. 92.

May we

not trace a survival of the same practice in

point Whonneur of the Japanese

who

kill

themselves

when

insulted?


THE GENESIS OP THE IPEA OE GOD.

II.

81

chance-met victim in order to get the assistance of hia

The

spirit.

Brahman who slew

case is reported of a

mother so that her

M. Letourneau

spirit

his

could catch and punish a thief.

says that on the Congo likewise the son

often kills his mother to secure the assistance of her

now

soul,

The Alfurus

a formidable spirit.^

bury children up

of Molacca

and expose them

to their waists,

to all

the tortures of thirst, until they wrench from them the

promise to hurl themselves upon the enemies of the

Then they take them

Adllage.

on the

spot,

out,

imagining that the

but only to

spirits of

On

will respect their last promise.^

kill

them

the victims

the other hand,

Philander Prescott says that amongst the Eedskins fear of the departed spirits often prevents

murder more

tually than the fear of hanging does

effec-

amongst white

peoples.^

^

,

In any â&#x20AC;˘'^

.

Relationa of naturethe worship t

e

ea

conciliate

conceived

unites in itself all the characteristics of those

worsMp and o

double thus

the

case,'

_

.

t whom the savage believes nature, whom he endeavours to ,

.

.

,

Superhuman bemgs ^^ exist in

by the methods

in

vogue in

the great ones of the earth, and

i

his relations

whom

with

he surrounds

with testimonies of his affection and dread.

Did the worship

dead precede or follow the

of the

worship of natural objects and personified

phenomena?

It is possible that in certain localities the worship of

the dead manifested

the

itself

241; Eng.

first,

or that the

two

trans, p. 253.

^

Sociologie, pp. 240,

^

Eosenberg, Der Malayische Arcldpel, Leipzig, 1878, pp. 59, 60.

'

In H. E. Schoolcraft, Indian Tribes of the United

phia,

1851â&#x20AC;&#x201D;1860,

part

ii.

pp. 195, 196.

G

States, Philadel-


82

II.

THE GENESIS OP THE IDEA OF GOD.

conceptions formed themselves pari passu, witli a pre-

ponderance of the one or the other.

It seems that in

China

the worship of ancestors grafted itself upon a previous

Amongst

nature-worship.

the Polynesians

it

has been

successfully established that the worship of the dead,

native to the eastern archipelagos, sporadically overlaid

the ancient mythological nature-worship, while

it

hardly

penetrated into the most western islands of Micronesia.^

All I maintain

is

that neither of these

two forms of

worship necessarily presupposes the other; but that man,

having been led by different routes of the

to personify the souls

dead on the one hand, and natural objects and

phenomena on the alike the

other, subsequently attributed to both

character of mysterious

superhuman

beings.

Let us add that this must have taken place everywhere, for there is not a people on earth in

come upon these two forms

which we do not

of belief side

by

side

and

intermingled. (ii.)

We

-

Primitive Eites.

have now to supplement the picture of primitive

by that of primitive rites that is to say, the ads which man's primitive conception of the superhuman beings and his relations with them led him to perform. beliefs

;

Probably the cultus was originally extremely simple.

When

the chief objects of nature are looked upon as

quasi-human personalities, the

man who

desires their sup-

port will evidently approach them as experience has taught

him 1

to

approach the mundane powers.

Obviously, then,

A. Eeville, in the Revue de VMstoire des Religions, 1882

p. 16.

(vol. iv.),


THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OE GOD.

n.

83

the request must be couclied in the terms most calculated to persuade

and usually a present, or

;

And

must be added.

definite promises,

motives actually revealed in prayer and rather

sacrifice,

or

escape the misleading associations of the

to

mystic sense often given to these terms

and

petition

any rate

at

such are the

us say, of

let

oflfering.

Prayer at •'

Prayer.

first is

and can be nothing ° more

than the demand for wealth and favours, / /

beginning with the things most indispensable to existence, such as our " daily bread." I do not suppose there is a single tribe in for all

"Be

powers.

moon. get

which prayer of

unknown,

this nature is

have something to gain from the superhuman

"May

"Let us get much honey!"

much

to eat,

and give much milk " ^ !

ever, the circle of requirements expands.

our

cattle

Soon,

how-

Supplications

superhuman beings often in terms by the most widely separated peoples are offered to the

the rain

fall,

hootze!" cries the Nootka Indian, "let

iill a great

enemy,

many

of

like a moral idea, or

wanting at

not fear him, find

him." ^

You

me

live,

him

even a feeling of chivalry,

Myths of the New

ii.

p.

is

enemy

g2

and

absolutely

The sup-

into

would do an enemy

272.

World, second edition,

York, 1S76.

not be

asleep,

this stage of religious education.

Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol.

Brinton,

make

perceive that anything

later on, to transform the national 1

to

" Great Qua-

pliants do not even take the trouble, as they

^

identical

to put diseases to flight, to appease the

storm, or to secure victory over enemies.

sick, find the

new

greeted !" say the Hottentots to the

p.

316:

New


84

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

II.

demand

of the gods, in order to justify the

Their help

intervention.

for their

secured by the best

is

offer.

The primitive theory of sacrifice answers The Karens of Burmah the same ideas. say that it is useless to demand anything

to

go so far as to of the gods

without at the same time giving a proof of

generosity;

and in the

interior

custom of hongo prevails (a levied

by

Negro

declares that

toll

more or less forcibly on travellers), the

the petty local chieftains

you must never pass before the abode

of a spirit without leaving a sacrifice, if spittle.^

order " to

where the

Africa,

of

but a

it is

little

The Negroes of Sierra Leone offer cattle in make god glad very much, and do Eroomen

good." 2 Munera, crede mihi, capiunt hominesque, deosque Placatur donis Jupiter ipse datis.^

How many

though they

people, civilized

be, are still

at this point in their conception of worship

Worship

them but a contract entered into on the prin"do ut des," in which man serves the gods in

indeed ciple

!

is to

consideration of a reciprocity formally or tacitly accepted

We

by them.

read in an Indian

"Well

the sacrificial spoon:

below; well

filled,

hymn

filled,

O

bring me, I bring to thee."^ Western Africa,

^

J. L. "Wilson,

2

E. Clarke, ^erra Leone, p. 43

vol.

ii.

p.

Spoon, descend

ascend towards us, as at a price agreed.

Let us exchange strength and vigour to thee;

addressed to

p. ;

Ovid, Ars Amatoria,

*

Taittiriya Samhita,

iii.

i.

653, 654,

8, 4, 1.

give me, I give

All this

is

naive

218.

cited

394.

^

:

by Tylor, Primitive

Culture,


THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OE GOD.

n. enough.

may

but as an example of

;

we

go on this path,

tlie length, to

any

will give

you an

which men

note the following passage from

the Taittiriya Samhita of the Tajur to injure

85

one, say to Surya,

offering

Veda

Smite such a one, and I

'

and Surya,

; '

" If you wish

:

to get the offer-

ing, will smite him."^

Here the god descends

level of a vulgar hravo,

and

whom

lets

to the

man

himself out to a

own time would stigmatize as a Yet this is the very Surya, " god

the ideas of our

contemptible craven.

amongst gods," who, accordiag

to the

Eig Veda, "departs

For the

not from the right path."

rest,

there

is

not a

whole of antiquity in which the deity

religion in the

allows negligence or parsimony in the matter of offerings to

Did not the Brahmans go the length huge universe was created for

go unpunished.

of proclaiming that the

the sake of sacrifice ?

"We can trace back, in the same

fashion, the motives

which underlie the other forms of sacrifice. jects

have obtained a favour

him by making him ing.

When

This

of their chief, they

This

a present.

they think he

appease him.

is

is

When

is

sub-

reward

the thank-offer-

enraged, they offer a gift to

the sacrifice of propitiation.

If

they have really injured him, they attempt to disarm his

wrath by paying a This

selves.

Man

a penalty on them-

is the sacrifice of expiation.

naturally offers his deities what he believes to them, or

most necessary

them most.

when

fine, or inflicting

what he imagines

First comes food.

once their appetite

tastes to gratify. 1

will please

Gods, however, like men,

is satisfied,

The Negro

is

have more refined

offers strong drinks to his

Taittiriya Samhita,

vi. 4, 5, 6.


86

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OP GOD.

II.

deities

the Siberian, furs

;

The

tobacco.

the Eedskin and the Ostiak,

;

idea that in the other world the same

wants are experienced as in

this, is

evinced by the cha-

racter of the sacrifices ofi'ered to their dead

by

all

the

peoples of the earth; and the gods, whatever the origin attributed to them, form a community, the conditions of

whose existence are hardly conceived, at a certain stage of religion, to differ materially from those of the souls of the defunct.

Human

appear to us the most absurd and

sacrifices

abominable of

all;

yet there

is

not a people that has

not practised this custom at some period or other of

even

its

Hindus, Egyptians, Chinese, Greeks, Eomans,

history.

Israelites, differ, in this matter,

of our

own

to this

kind of

from the Negroes

times in nothing save the object they assign

The aim

is

sacrifice.

sometimes to assure to the distinguished

dead the continuance of the services which had been rendered them in this world by the slaves and slaughtered at their tombs;

sometimes

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

women

as with the

Polynesians, whose gods are particularly greedy of flesh

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

it

is

to

offer the

human

present most worthy of the

divine majesty, if not most agreeable to the celestial palate. Intimidation of the gods,

Good-will, however, j^gj^i.

^^

-v^hich

is

not the only senti-

one can rely in seeking to

extort benefits from one's equals or one's superiors.

Even

men are sometimes susceptible to Attempts will therefore be made to intimidate the superhuman beings by threatening words or gestures,

the most powerful of fear.

with the view of extracting a favour from them or avert-


THE GENBSIS OV THE IDEA OF GOD.

n.

ing their

When

-wratli.

87

the storm rages, the peasant of

the Palatinate offers the wind a handful of meal to

appease

but

it;

not every race that

is

it

The Payaguas

natured.

it.

Namaquas

The Negroes

so good-

rush to meet the

of Brazil

tempest, brandishing lighted torches. Brazil and the

is

The Botocudos

Gold Coast and the Papuans

of the

Malaynesia throw offerings into the sea to calm the Guanches lash

it

of

of Kaifirland shoot arrows at

it

of

but

;

with cords, just as Xerxes beat the

To this very day, our peasants employ the same two-fold method with their saints. No doubt at a more advanced stage

Hellespont with rods for dispersing his

fleet.

of civilization such attempts at intimidation are confined to the inferior spirits, the souls of the dead, the saints,

and the demons; but at

the distinctions of the

first

superhuman hierarchy are too fluctuating and undeter-

mined

any

to offer

obstacle to the general application of

Does not Herodotus

such methods.

Getse shoot arrows at the this deity, if any,

must be above

by

Side Sorcery.

Heaven

we

upon them. that he

us that the

Yet surely

all violence.

side with these attempts to influ-n

i

ence the will indirectly,

tell

itself?^

i

/>

of the

i

observe others intended to act directly

There

is

no potentate on earth

so great

cannot be brought to reason by a stronger

than himself, and forced to surrender his power conqueror.

Now

—except the the the lodged —but him who possesses spirit

to his

the gods are generally exempt from

physical coercion

of

superhuman beings

in

object

in

it

case of fetishism, is

where

henceforth the slave

since the gods have

;

1

iv.

94.

mys-


88

II.

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

means of making

terioTis

power

their

felt,

man

asks

whether he, in his turn, cannot act upon them by anaThe only difficulty is to find them logous methods.

Hence the

out.

practices

would expect, are from the

as

sorcery which,

of

numerous

'cat's concert,' to

which

one

as

as they are bizarre all

uncivilized peoples,

without exception, have recourse, to put to flight the assailant of the sun sorceries of vulgar

and moon in an

eclipse,

down

to the

magic and the evocations of fashion-

able spiritualism in our midst.

"We need not enter upon a course cery

;

but

examples

it is

not beside the

mark

of comparative sorto point out a

of the reappearance in all ages

few

and in every

part of the world of certain rudimentary conceptions as to the

means of forcing

human

There

powers.

certain courses

upon the

not a nation that has not

is

believed in the efficacy of incantations; there that has not

kindled

made use

fires to

super-

of lustrations,

put the demons to

is

none

or that has not

flight, or to

hinder

the dead from tormenting the living. It is especially

on

has had free scope.

its

pseudo-medical side that sorcery

According as diseases are attributed

by savage peoples to the departure of the soul or to the entry into the body of a spirit that does not belong to it,

now

the treatment will aim,

soul into its envelope,

now

which the

And

evil is due.

at bringing

back the

at expelling the spirit to this is effected

by

processes

which present a strange resemblance amongst the Negroes, the Siberians, the Australians, the Japanese, the Chinese, the natives of India, and those of the two Americas.

Sometimes

it

is

deemed

essential to

make

the spirit


II.

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

89

thus expelled pass into the body of a living being, a pebble, a scrap of wood, or some object which can be

thrown away, or perhaps into a rag suspended branch or a nail fixed into the trunk of a

tree.

It is a corollary of these beliefs that a

be

inflicted

man by

on a

In

into his body.

made

malady may

compelling a spirit to enter

this connection

place, the practice of

wounding

we

note, in the first

or destroying a figure

in the likeness of the intended victim.

tom, very

known to

common

to a

in our Middle Ages,

the Chaldseans and Greeks, and

by the Hindus, the Negroes

of the

This cus-

was previously

is still

employed

Congo, and the

Chippeways of North America. Next comes the bewitching of some object which has previously belonged in

an intimate manner to the enemy whose destruction is

sought

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;a lock

of his hair, the parings of his nails,

his footprints, sometimes even his proper name.

This

which we meet with amongst the Negroes,

superstition,

the Kaffirs, the Patagonians, the Eedskins, the Polynesians,

and various branches

of the

Indo-European

implies, besides the belief that death, like disease,

race,

is

the

result of enchantment, the idea that the part is equivalent to the whole,

and that we may reach the person by means

of his representation or his possessions.

Side by side with the magic processes affecting health

may

human

be placed, as of equal importance, those

intended to influence atmospheric phenomena, and particularly the production of rain.

the sorcerer

is

known

Amongst the Eedskins

as the medicine-man, but

called the rain-doctor.

I

amongst

have already

the Kaffirs he

is

had occasion

to point out the identity of certain pro-


90

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

II.

cesses

employed

amongst the most

to secure rain

The Bushman

separated peoples.

widely-

strives to obtain rain

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

by driving the hippopotamus the amphibious animal par excellence over the fields and in doing so he acts from the same motives which lead the Negro to throw pitchers into the river, the Aryan to pour the sacred juice

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

;

upon the

of the soma

New

the Keramins of

Welsh

South Wales, the Britons and the

to besprinkle certain

Europe

in Southern

In Eussia, the undergo

this

to

the Samoans, the Apaches,

altar,

magic

stones, or the peoples

plunge their saints into the

river.

sorcerer, or occasionally the priest, has to

compulsory bath in person

if

he

fails

to

secure the rain.^

All these analogies are explained by the fact that the processes of sorcery are generally the result, not of a

simple caprice, but of some association between two facts or

even

two

at the

Such

objects.

bottom

a spice of reason,

of

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

The same remark

the power of logic, that

is

unreason

or at

itself

any rate

applies to the

there

is

ever found

of reasoning.

methods

of divination

by which man seeks to penetrate the secrets of the supers human beings. The belief that all events of any considerable consequence result from the will of the deities, carries

with

it

the idea that that will must be deter-

mined and formulated more or event.

and

Hence the

to take

less in

advance

of the

desire to penetrate to it beforehand,

advantage of the knowledge so gained.

And

here the confusion between concomitance and causality

has free scope.

For the

rest,

divination at the outset

is

no more than a branch of sorcery. ^

An. Leroy Beaulieu, L' Empire des Tsars:

Paris, 1889, p. 284.

torn

iii.

La

Religion,


II,

91

THE GENESIS OE THE IDEA OF GOD. Finally,

,. â&#x20AC;&#x17E; , Symbolism.

.

we must bear

.

experiencing, as I have

and

feeling of fear

in mind that man, shown abore, a mixed

trust towards his deities, eyer dreads

them, as one dreads the unknown, but at the same time

draw near to them and realize a closer union Hence a series of attempts to seal an alliance with the gods by some external act, to live their life or become assimilated to their nature, from the sacrificial banquets in which the savage is supposed to partake of the food offered to the spirits, up to his elaborate attempts to imitate their deeds and exploits.

seeks to

with them.

When

these attempts are supposed to have a direct and

on the superhuman beings, they come

forceful action

under the category of conjurations

but when they are

;

simply intended to simulate the presence of some deity, to reproduce his

movements, or

to represent the relations

the worshipper desires to enter into

they are

symbols

homage rendered

and come under the category

to the divinity.

to say, the representation of

by an

object which recalls

or conventional association

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

stages of religious evolution. as subjective, of sentiment;

when

at

of is

in virtue of a natural

found even at the lowest I

would

classify

their object is to express

figurative,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;that

an idea by an action or

it,

is

Symbolism

when they

symbols

any shade

directly represent

a being or an abstract quality itself;

when they aim

with him, then

and

imitative,

reproducing the supposed acts of

the real or imaginary being.

Figurative symbols, aiming at representing the deity or one of his attributes, can hardly be expected before a

people has reached the conception of the deity as distinct


92

ir.

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

from material beings or things.

Subjective symbols, on

the contrary, are found even amongst the most backward peoples. sion,

forth

They may be divided

into symbols of submis-

of distress, of repentance, of joy, of love,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

if,

indeed,

and so

any enumeration can exhaust material

as diverse as the religious sentiment itself in all its most delicate shades.

Sometimes these symbols consist in a

conscious reproduction of the attitude which

man

spon-

taneously assumes under the domination of the senti-

ments he wishes

simulate or to express

to

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;groaning,

leaping for joy, throwing kisses with the hand, falling flat

upon the belly before the object

of adoration, cover-

And

ing the head with cinders, and so on.

hypnotism,

here, as in

often happens that the very fact of impres-

it

ing on the members and the features the characteristic pose of a given emotion tends to produce

Sometimes men attempt

sciousness.

spiritual state

by the use

play of certain objects. ill

it

in the con-

to express

their

of certain colours or the dis-

In general, black

is

a colour of

augury; white, the emblem of joy; but there are

exceptions,

notably in the case of the Negroes, who

paint the images of their dead white because the spirits

appear to them in a palish form.

Finally, an elaborated

symbolism, such as the language of plants and flowers, is

sometimes found even amongst quite primitive peoples.

The Tahitians plant the symbol of death

leafless shave-grass ;

on the tombs

as

and other peoples equally backward

symbolize their faith in the continuation of

life

by

ever-

green plants.

Amongst

the races

who worship

personified natural

phenomena, imitative symbolism chiefly consists in repro-


THE GENESIS OE THE

ir.

ducing

tlie

of the

of the planets

tlie

phases of

and

constella-

death and resurrection of the sun, the contests

luminous sky with the storm-cloud, the mysteries

of germination

and

of generation, or the production of

Hence the considerable

on earth and in heaTcn.

fire

93

OF GOD.

course of such, plienomena as

the moon, the movements tions, the

IDEA.

place occupied

by dancing

Elsewhere,

in savage rites.

and resurrection are reproduced in pantomime as an affirmation of belief in survival after death. Thus death,

Australian tribes celebrate initiatory rites in

certain

which one

of the

the rest cover

neophytes

him with

lies

on the ground whilst

which he

dust, after

rises

again

amidst general rejoicings.^ .^.,

.

Did conjuration precede

The question has been much

discussed

whether worship sprang from sorcery, or

Tou

now

under-

absolutely otiose.

Con-

sorcery from worship.

stand that this controversy

is

will

jurations and propitiations have probably been practised,

though

at

distinctions,

first

with ill-defined and vaguely marked

from the

day when

man

first

felt

the

need of putting himself in communication with the personified forces of nature.

backward peoples we actions,

find

Even amongst the most this

two-fold

category of

intended on the one hand to conciliate and

on the other to compel the superhuman powers.

This

explains the complex nature of worship, which some-

times tempts us to despair of the possibility of retracing

its

psychological origins.

This also explains

the difficulty of determining in what category to place ^

J.

Bonwick, The Australian Natives, in the Journal of the

Anthropological Institute, vol. xv. 1886,

p.

206.


94

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

II.

certain acts whicti partake, or th.e

For

may

and of conjuration. when we see the Abipones of South America

character of homage, of symbolism, instance,

and the Negroes

of Central Africa

imitation of the

movements

are

partake, at once of

we

to

know whether

performing dances in

of the celestial bodies,

how

the rite rests on the belief that

they can compel the stars to pursue their periodic course,^ or on the desire to their destiny

drink in their

life

and

so

share

belief that they are

and power, or on the

helping them in the accomplishment of their task, or on the simple wish to pay

them homage and give them

by the "sincerest

satisfaction

flattery"

of these notions is

of ideas

which permeate the lower

we may

see

imitation?

above or beyond the range

Not one as

of

levels of civilisation,

by studying the complicated ceremonial

observed by savages towards their gods and their or even in their intercourse one with another. to note that all these ideas reappear

chiefs,

It is well

amongst peoples

as advanced as the Aztecs, the ancient Egyptians, the

Hindus, and even the Grreeks.

A

closely connected question is that of priority as

between the

priest

and the

that at

every

man was

first

sorcerer.

his

own

The priest

probability

is

and his own

sorcerer; that is to say, he alternately invoked or conjured

the superhuman beings, varying his methods according to the degree of power which he attributed to them or the

nature of the service he expected of them. ^

It is a

assures

its

common

idea amongst savages that to prefigure an event

occurrence; hence the veritable pantomimes in which the

EeJskins represent the capture of game or the defeat of the enemy before starting on the chase or the war-path.


THE GENESIS OP THE IDEA OP GOD.

II.

Little

by

little,

95

a first line of demarcation -was esta-

blished between the religions operations which can be

performed by any one, and those which require special preparation or even a special temperament.

Every one

continued freely to put himself into relations with the

superhuman beings by surrounded, as paterfamilias

is still

began

whom

he supposed himself

the case with savages

;

to

be

but the

on behalf of his family

to sacrifice

and in honour of the most formidable or the most respected powers.

Finally, the

still

undistinguished functions of

the diviner, sorcerer and doctor, were assigned to individuals singled out for their performance of

more or

less real information, or

to hysteria,

In

which

by the command

by a predisposition

easily taken for inspiration.

is

this sense it is quite correct to say that the priest-

hood, properly so called, issued from the domestic cultus,

not from sorcery.

But

cultus

and sorcery

alike pro-

ceeded from a religious state in which their respective practices

were indifferently conducted by any one, with-

out need

of special

qualification.

For that matter,

the differentiation was never absolute. in

There are cases

which sorcery remains the appanage of the

chief,

and others in which the sorcerer takes advantage of his prestige to

We

make himself

shall see that

the priest par excellence.

even in the bosom of the most highly

developed religions the priest never completely renounces the practices of sorcery; but

it is

with the assistance of

the higher divinities, and no longer in virtue of his personal power, that he

now

practises his exorcisms;

and

they are directed exclusively against evil spirits. Be that as it may, whatever solution we adopt as to the


96

II.

THE GENESIS OF THE IDEA OF GOD.

priority of these

two

institutions, it will afiect neither

our point of departure nor our conclusion, nor even, as

we

shall presently see, our

deyelopment

yiew of the intermediate

of the religious sentiment.


Lecture

III.

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

(i.)

and Idolatry.

Spiritism, Fetishism,

"We have seen that the -worship of natural objects springs from the arbitrary extension of human personality to every apparent source of life or even of

If this explanation

very

is

movement.

correct, it follows that,

from the

worship must have been addressed, not to the

first,

material object conceived as such, but to the personality

supposed to be embodied in instinctive after

man

it

;

although this vague and

appeal to beings psychologically modelled did not necessarily imply a conscious distinc-

tion between the internal personality and its envelope or

body. â&#x20AC;&#x17E;.

At

,

addressed to the personality

â&#x201E;˘g^-

first sight,

indeed,

might often seem

...

without reference to any spiritual attribute. Prescott reports that the Dacotah will choose

a round stone at hazard, place it

it

that savages worship the objects themselves,

it

tobacco or feathers, and pray to

on the it to

turf,

then

offer

avert some real or

imaginary danger.^ In the Hawaian islands, Mr. Andrew Lang informs ns, the native enters upon athletic competitions,

provided with a stone that he has chosen on

a certain beach of the Archipelago. 1

If

he

Cited by Lubbock, Origin of Civilization,

H

is victorious, p. 212.


98

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

he will

treat

it

make an axe-head "

Africa.

god

as a

Bosman, " any of us of importance,

we

throw

it

away

or

The same custom is found in an intelligent Negro to the traveller

of

If," said

not, lie will

if

;

it.^

resolved to undertake anything

is

first

god

of all search out a

our designed undertaking

and going out

;

to prosper

of doors

with

this design, take the first creature that presents itself to

our eyes, whether dog,

cat,

most contemptible

or the

animal in the world, for our god; or perhaps, instead of that,

whether

any inanimate object that

the same nature.

This new-chosen god

presented with an

oflfering,

solemn vow, that

if

takings,

for

which

discovered a

immediately

accompanied with a

is

we

always worship and

will

If our design prove successful,

new and

assisting god,

daily presented with fresh offerings

happen, the

is

he pleaseth to prosper our under-

the future

esteem him as a god.

we have

in our way,

falls

a stone, or a piece of wood, or anything else of

new god

is

but

;

if

rejected as a useless tool, and

workman worships

the

In

India,

his tools, the

housekeeper her marketing-basket, the fisherman his the scribe his pen, and

appears elsewhere

is

the contrary

consequently returns to his primitive state." ^ to this very day,

which

—a form

—the banker

net,

worship which

of

re-

These

his account-book.^

customs appear to have been in existence as early as in 1

A. Lang,

Was JeJwvah a

Review, March, 1890, ,

^

Bosman,

*

"

among

Of

cited

p.

hy Lubhock, Origin of

this custom, the

the Thugs,

fetish-stone?

in the

Contemporary

358. Civilization, p. 166.

most sensational example was

who used

to

to

be found

worship the pick-axe which they carried

for speedy burial of their victims

on the spot of the murder."

Alfred Lyall, Asiatic Studies, London, 1882,

p. 15.

Sir


III.

POLTDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

One

the Vedie epoch.^ in

such,

certainly tempted to say,

is

that a spirit

cases,

to these things

can hardly he assigned

yet whenever

;

99

we

succeed in piercing

below the surface of the savage's thought,

appears

it

that the object worshipped derives its whole religious

from the internal personality attributed to

significance

A Negro who was

it.

how he

asked

could offer food to

a tree, explained to Halleur that this food was not offered

but to the

to the tree latter

would only eat the

spirit of the sacrifice.^

"We

with the religious ideas of savages in

this interpretation

new

the old and the

and that the

to note the complete conformity of

have occasion

shall

spirit it contained,

worlds.

man began by

I do not maintain that

erecting this

soul of a thing into a separate or independent entity.

In our own day, as Waitz well says, " the Negroes make a distinction between the spirit and the material object in which

make

it

resides,

a single

although they combine the two and

whole

of them."

Mr. Im Thurn, again,

us that the natives of Guiana regard men, animals,

tells

celestial bodies,

atmospheric phenomena, and inanimate

objects, as beings of the

same nature, alike composed of

a spirit and a body, and differing only in the extent of their powers.^

This combining of the body and the

or rather this absence of 1

any

clear distinction

A. Earth, The Religions of India ; translated by

1882,

p. 8.

ComiJare

Habakkuk

i.

J.

Wood

soul,

between :

16, for the like practices

London, amongst

the Israelites. 2

Halleur, cited

by

"Waitz, Anthropologie der Naturvblker, vol.

ii.

p. 188. 3

Im

Thurn, Indians of British Guinna

Anthropological

Institute, vol. xi. p. 377.

h2

:

in the Journal of the


100

III.

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

them, was probably tbe rule amongst pre-historic peoples,

who were far behind even the

savages above referred to in

the matter of psychological speculation.

from what I have said in

my

last

But

it

results

man

Lecture that

would never have come to invoke or adore any object, had he not believed that in

so

doing he was dealing with

personalities modelled after his own.

whether from analogy

little,

with the double nature he had discovered in

a sharper distmction

netween body

and

by

Little

Extension

or

jjimgelf

'

-which he

soul,

in consequence ^

saw

dreams in

of

distant or destroyed objects,

he must have extended to things a more or

less sharp

and body; and, moreover, he must

distinction of soul

have accepted for these souls of

things the

same power

of

quitting their envdopes, or even surviving them, which

he allowed in the case of his own

soul.

Before the Incas

established sun-worship in the valleys of Peru, the natives

adored stones, blocks of rock, or huacas. legend

A

Peruvian

us that, as one of these stones was being

tells

broken, at the order of the Inca Eoca, a parrot flew

out of

which

it

and disappeared into a neighbouring

latter

predecessor, in the

i

stone,

inherited the veneration accorded to

E"ow

if

the

new

fetish

same w^y, no doubt the

living creature,

had been treated

parrot, or

would have been seen

its

some other

to escape

too, as representing the veritable object of the

from

it

popular

Here we come upon the attitude of mind described by Prof. Tylor as animism, and by Prof. C. P.

worship.

Tiele as polydemonism. It is probable 1

enough

that,

like

human

souls,

Girard de Rialle, Mythologie comparee, Paris, 1878, vol.

i.

the

p. 14.


POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

had the character

spirits of tilings

The Tahitians

instance.

of doubles in the first

believe that not only plants

and animals, but natural and

artificial objects also,

have

If they are broken or destroyed, their

souls, like nian. spirit survives

101

and goes

In

to the country of the dead.

one of the Fiji islands the natives even point out a certain stream running across the bottom of a hole,

which you may

clearly perceive the souls of men, "women,

beasts, plants, stocks, stones, canoes, houses,

broken utensils

of this frail world,

and

all

we

are told

by the

That

spirit,

The

early missionaries, admit

the existence of a personal spirit in the most place objects.

the

tumbling along one

over the other, into the regions of immortality."^

Eedskins, as

"in

when once

common-

the object

itself

broken, goes, like the soul of man, to the land of the

is

These peoples would have had no

setting sun.2

in accepting literally the

difficulty

humorous description in Scarron's

burlesque " J'apergus I'omTDre d'un cocher Qui, tenant Tombre d'une brosse

Nettoyait I'ombre d'un carrosse."

Perhaps custom,

it

still

prevalent, as

is

the same belief that gives rise to the

widely spread among savages, and formerly

we have

seen,

amongst pre-historic peoples,

of breaking or burning the objects deposited near the

Some writers have maintained that the purpose practice was to protect the offerings against but the interpretation of it given by all the

deceased. this

of

thieves; 1

Mariner,

An

burgh, 1827, vol. ^

Account of the Natives of the Tonga Islands, Edinii.

p. 123.

Pere Lejeune, Relation de

en I'annee 1634, pp.

58â&#x20AC;&#x201D;60.

ce

qui

^est passe

en la nouvelle France


102

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

who

peoples

still

observe

it,

shows that the real intention

assure the transmission of the object in question The superstitious fear to the spirit of the deceased. inspired by the deceased would generally suffice to protect is to

the offering against thieves, so that

its

destruction would

be unnecessary on that ground; but since the animals destined to follow the deceased into the other world

were unquestionably

and consistent

would seem only natural arms, garments, and utensils

sacrificed, it

to treat his

of every kind in like manner.

Here we come to a distinction which exercises a commanding influence on the ultimate direction of the religious evolution. _,.

If

â&#x20AC;&#x17E;.

spirits,

and

the objects personified possess a de-

terminate individuality and are practically

unlimited in their duration, like the heaven, the sun, the moon, rivers and mountains, then their soul,

when thought

of as capable of quitting its envelope,

will, in its turn, receive a strongly

tive character.

It will long

marked and

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; perhaps

distinc-

indefinitely

retain, in the consciousness, its relations to the particular

object from which

which

it

it is

But the souls not distinguished by any salient

continues to guide from outside.

attributed to objects characteristic, easily

similar objects,

as

supposed to have issued, and

men and

confounded with a whole

and destined ultimately

animals,

may

series of

to disappear, such

indeed survive, in accordance

with the general theory of survival, but the recollection of their connection with the objects from first

issued will soon be

lost.

them but the vague character

which they

Nothing will then be

left

of semi- material beings,


III.

POLTDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISSC.

103

anonymous and independent, invested with extraordinaryfaculties and capable of arbitrary intervention in the course of nature and in the destiny of man. It is the action of these " spirits"

which now explains

everything that cannot be attributed to the or to the intervention of

some

ready explanation dispenses with connection of cause and

effect.

human

will

and

this

specific deity all efforts to

This spiritism

;

discover the-

or, to

adopt

M. Albert Edville's excellent definition, this belief in spirits detached from their natural basis and without necessary connection with specific objects^

is

the dominating factor

in the lower stages of civilization generally, though

remains undeveloped, indeed, amangst the peoples at

very bottom of the

scale,

the-

such as the Bushmen,

Tierra del Fuegans, and the Samoyeds.

In

Siberia,

it

the-

Gas-

many individuals who worshipped natural but who had never heard tell of spirits. ^ Such

trin found objects,

evidence co-nfirms the presumption that spiritism cannot

be a primitive phenomenon.

The

souls of

man and

of animals,

when not despatched

to a special world of their own, easily pass into

general mass of

spirits,

the-

whether because the memory of

the individuals to whom- they belonged

is lost,

ar because

they are regarded as themselves forming a specific class of

Thus on the Congo the term Zombi signifies It is the «t once the spirits, and the souls o-f the dead. same in the Marianne Islands, where both alike bear the the

spirits.

name

of Anti.

In like manner the

1

Religions des peuples iiovrcivilises, vol.

2.

Gastrin, Nordische Reisen

i.

spirits

appear to be

p. 79.

und Forschungen,

vol.

iii.

;

Vorlesungen

uber die Finnische Mythologie, St. Petersburg, 1853, pp. 196, 197.


104

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

in.

recruited from the dead amongst the Polynesians and

In the Solomon

the natives of the Indian Archipelago.

Islands, a traveller tells us that the only worship is that

They become

of the dead.

they like with the living."

Mr. Herbert Spencer nature and souls of

^^^ others -tiiat

"who

spirits

do whatever

^

relies

on these

facts,

like them, to support his thesis

from necrolatry,

spiritism issued

or, in

other words, that the spirits are :m every case dead

been

men whose But

effaced.

individuality has in process of time

in

many

cases

we can

still

recover

the links which distinctly attach the spirits to an ante-

and phenomena.

rior personification of natural objects

There are tribes who have but one word objects

and

the. spirits themselves,

to signify these

though they perfectly

understand the distinction between the two.

Gold Coast there are the Wongs who the

fields, forests, rocks,

and water-courses

;

the

live at liberty in

hollow trees, mountains, caverns

and, on the other hand, the sea, the

rivers, plants, ant-eaters, birds,

Wonffs,

On

and serpents, are

also called

and are treated accordingly .^ In Western Africa,

the Wanikas,

when asked by

the Eev. J. L. Krapf what

they meant by the word Mulungu, answered variously that

it

meant the thunder, or the

celestial vault, or the

author of diseases, or some kiad of Supreme Being that the dead *

become Mulungus? It

is

Lieut. F. Elton, Notes on Natives of the

Journal of the Anthropological *

Waitz, Anthrojpologie, &c.,

^

J.

L. Krapf,

Travels,

Institute, vol.

ii.

p.

Researches

Eastern Africa, London, 1860,

p.

168.

;

or

well to note that Solomon Islands:

in

1888, vol. xvii. p. 97. 183.

and Missionary Labours

in


POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

we

now

are

speaking of populations

who

105

are sometimes

represented as exclusively worshipping the dead.

Amongst

the beliefs of the Eedskins

we may

detect

the different stages of the transition by which the personification of a thing passes to the status of a detached' spirit.

river

The missionary Marquette, when navigating a of North America, was warned by his boatmen

that they would have to pass the cave of a terrible

demon.

who devoured

This demon,

travellers,

was

simply and solely a rock which divided the current at a

bend

Here the

of the river.

spirit is still inherent in its

material envelope, as with Scylla and Charybdis in the

The

ancient tradition.

same region,

passed, in the spirits

cataract of the Eiver Peihono for the residence of terrible

whose roarings sounded

passing travellers

They,

afar.

who ventured on Here the

devoured

the river, but they

could also surprise any one rash enough to their neighbourhood.

too,

spirits

fall asleep

have already

acquired a certain independence, since, like the Lorelei, they can quit their retreat for a

ing to Schoolcraft, the Eedskins

tell

winter, because the spirits are frozen

and cannot be

We

hear.^

spirits of nature,

attach

them

up under the ground

this case it is not so easy to

connection disappears. School-

spirits,

man and his future destinies. p.

492.

who

rule the affairs of

This is full-fledged spiritism.

H .R. Schoolcraft, Indian Tribes of the iii.

pheno-

Algonkins believe the whole world to be

animated by good and bad

1853-60, part

mocking tales during

can hardly doubt that these must

though in

all trace of

craft says that the

*

German

moment. Accord-

specifically to the various classes of

mena. Finally,

in

United States, Philadelphia,


106

III.

Indeed,

it

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM. is

not difficult to explain the process by

which, the doubles of

men and

of things enter into the

mass of anonymous

spirits.

Ancestors are generally

On

regarded as the protectors of their descendants.

the

other hand, the spirits of inanimate things have their respective spheres of action sharply determined

by

character of the objects to which they are attached. let

the

Now

these attributes mingle, in a sort of cross-chassd, or

rather

by

reciprocal extension of the powers reserved to

the two categories of superhuman beings, of the sorcerer or the chief

let

the manes

be invoked for the produc-

tion of rain, the stoppage of an inundation, the averting of a storm, the fertilization of the harvest, (as

with the

New

and

so forth

Zealanders, Siberians, and Negroes);

and, further, let the spirits of nature be invoked to assure

bodily health or to protect the house (as amongst the

Finns)

and you have only

;

remove from these two

to

varieties of spirits the traces of their respective origins,

for

them

to appear henceforth invested

with analogous

attributes, identical in natural functions,

and even

alike

in aspect.

Form and functions of

In the record .... with individuals with losing

of their connection

or

specific

objects,

the spirits naturally lose the character and

form of

doubles,

and yet they are far from being regarded

as immaterial in the sense

On

which we attach

to the word.

the contrary, the most varied features and appearance

are attributed to them, and, in particular, forms borrowed

from

all

kinds of animals.

We

must not forget

that,

to the savage, animals are not only man's equals, but

his superiors.

They

possess,

in his eyes,

a prestige


POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

107

proportionate to their more mysterious habits and less intelligible motives.

Hence

in particular the representa-

tion of spirits under the form of serpents and birds, so

widely spread amongst the peoples of the old and

Elsewhere

worlds.

by the

assume fantastic and mon-

spirits

strous forms suggested

by

new

visions of the night or even

The

caprice of imagination.

that the form chosen must imply

life

essential point

and

activity.

is,

If

the spirits of plants are never, or but very rarely, conceived under the form of doubles, spirits are ancient

it is

not because those

human personages who

bore the names

of plants, but simply because the vegetable has not a sufficiently active

and spontaneous physiognomy

to repre-

sent a personality conceived after the model of our own.

We

must note that the spirits become visible under certain circumstances and to certain persons; or that they reveal themselves to other senses than that of sight,

murmur

a whistle, a

Our

by

or friction.

folk-lore is full of traditions crediting the spirits

with every sound in the

least degree

imwonted, from the

cry of the night-bird to the whistling of the wind in the forest

;

but

human body They may

it is

chiefly

by

their direct action on the

that the spirits manifest their existence. either act at a distance or incorporate

selves in the body.

Amongst

the Dyaks, diseases are

attributed either to the spirits inflicting internal

with

sion.

wounds

invisible lances, or to their introducing themselves

into the

The

them-

first

body case

of their victim

we

disease.

shall call obsession ; the second, posses-

This two-fold process

well as to beings

and so causing the

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;that

is

applicable to things as

is to say,

the spirits can act

on


108

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

inanimate things from without, using them as imple-:

ments

which case these objects are talismans

(in

amulets), or they

may embody

object (which then becomes

di

or

themselves in a concrete This distinction

fetish).

is

already recognized by the greater number of savage races.^

In the second the

case, the object,

spiritj

This

may be

be capable of private appro-

is

power attached

the whole meaning of fetishism, which

secure the services of the spirit lodged within

Moreover,

it is

methods and

it.

easy to imagine that there are means

of attracting spirits

into bodies

by the

aid of special

In old Calabar they manufacture

receipts.

Then they expose enable the spirits to come into

fetishes out of straw, rags, or

them

of the

defined as the belief that the appropriation of a

may

thing

it (if it

become the possessor

priation) will it.

of

will dispense the benefits of the latter, and

whoever possesses to

having become the body

in the open air to

wood.

Amongst other tribes of Negroes, fetish-shops by certain sorcerers. The shopman, after inviting the customer to take his choice, makes the spirit enter the selected object by dint of the regulation hocus-pocus.^ In like manner, the Finns manufacture a kind of dolls them.

are kept

or paras out of a child's cap filled with

the end of a rod.

The

fetish thus

times round the church, with the

tow and stuck

at

made is carried nine cry, "Synny para!"

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

(Para, be born !) repeated every time, to induce a haltia that

is to say,

a

spirit

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

to enter into

it.^

1

See above, pp. 72, 73.

^

J. Becker, Vie en Afrique, vol.

8

Castren, VorUsungenyx.s.vf.,^. 166.

ii.

p.

306.


POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

Amongst

haunted houses

ourselves,

objects, the witches

known

109

and possessed and the table-

to our rustics,

turning familiar in our drawing-rooms, clearly show that these superstitions are not yet extinct, though they have ceased, so to speak, to rank as religious

Fetishism,

Source of fetishism,

we

have just analyzed

it,

implies the conception of spirits capable of

unattached to material objects.

existing if

as I

phenomena.

No

doubt,

choose to apply the term fetish to every object

capable

being appropriated, which

of

the body of a superhuman power,

it

is

regarded as

becomes inaccurate

to say that fetishism necessarily presupposes spiritism for

whenever man

is

by some

led

association to attribute

any

a propitious or disastrous influence on his fate to

given object, he will pay his homage to the personality

with which he invests

whether or not he regards that

it,

personality as capable of separating itself from

In the

rial envelope.

up with the

fate

latter case, the spirit is

of its body.

Gastrin

tells

mate-

its

bound

us that

the Ostiaks worshipped a larch-tree, to the branches of

which they hung the skins in consequence of travellers,

deposited to

it.

these

of animals as oflferings

skins

often being stolen

they cut a block of wood out of the it

in a safe place,

In such

by

tree,

and transferred their homage

a case, fetishism is

absorbed into natur-

ism or physiolatry, as I have defined the preceding Lecture.^

but

;

it

in the course of

So, too, there are cases in

which

have elsewhere proposed to distinguish hetween primary which man, personifying natural ohjects, chooses one as an auxiliary or protector ; and secondary, or derived fetishism, which implies the incorporation of an independent spirit in a material object. 1

I

fetishism, in


III.

fetishism

is

POLYDEMONISJI AND POLYTHEISM.

110

wben

absorbed in necrolatry; namely,

the

fetish consists in the remains of the deceased, or even in

one of his bones in which his personality

is

supposed to

have taken refuge. I think

it

is better,

fetish for objects

however, to reserve the name of

which owe their supernatural powers

to the fact that a spirit

from outside has taken possession

Thus we may put an end to that veritable quarrel of words which has risen between Positivists of the school of Comte, and naturists like M. Albert of them.

Edville and even Prof.

the naturists right

Max

Miiller.

when they

We

may

declare

say that fetishism (the

worship of material objects, frankly regarded as such) does not constitute the whole religion of the I^egro; and

we may say that Comte's disciples are also like M. Girard de Eialle, they lay at the

right when, basis of all

religions the tendency to consider natural objects, beings,

and phenomena, as possessing feelings and lar

to

wills simi-

those of man, and differing only in degree or

activity.^ ^,

The

.,

,

idol

an

elaborated

The ,

is

transition _

easily

from fetishism

to idolatrv

_

established.

The

regarded as an elaborated fetish.

an object supposed to be inhabited by a

is

which superhuman power

is

attributed,

may

idol

The

be

fetish

spirit

and the

to

idol is

the fetish so fashioned or re-touched as to reproduce The

first

form obviously does not involve an anterior 'conception of the from its material envelope. Ori-

spirit as a distinct entity separable

gines de I'idolatrie: in the

Revue de I'Histoire des Religions,

vol. xii.

pp. 4, 5, note. ^

Girard de Kialle, Mytliologie comparee, Paris, 1878, vol.

i.

p. 2.


POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

Ill

tte appearance of the spirit supposed to reside in

now no

It is

longer

tlie

that

spirit

is

it.

conceived in

the likeness of the body, but the body to which, by a sort of reflex action, the

supposed

traits of the spirit are

must not be understood to class as idols all images which represent superhuman beings, and are given.

I

therefore worshipped as conscious

but only those which are regarded

;

Even

and animated.

religion, ancient or less enlightened

modern, without

Eoman Catholics,

no great

so there is

Doubt-

its idolaters.

Brahmanists, and Bud-

dhists, are justified in repudiating the charge of idolatry

as far as they themselves or even their

doctrines

oflS.cial

are concerned, in spite of the worship, to some extent

symbolic, which they accord to their representations of

superhuman beings.

But the great herd does not always observe these distinctions, and a Saint or Madonna that rolls its eyes,

diseases or

weather

drops tears, sheds blood, speaks,

wards them

ofi,

to the fields, is as

a fetish in

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

human form

and sends rain or

much an

idol

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;that

fine

is to say,

as the veriest fetish of fetishes

amongst the Negroes, whether a

inflicts

in

human form

or not, is

fetish.

In China, when an vices expected of into the

lows,

mud

it is

;

idol is tardy in rendering the ser-

it, it is

but

if

torn from

its

temple and flung

the desired effect subsequently fol-

cleaned up again, replaced, and perhaps pro-

mised a fresh gilding.

Though pagan

antiquity never

went so far as this in the treatment of the idols, never completely free itseK from the idea that resided in the images.

Need

it

could

its deities

I record the case of

Eamses

sending to his father-in-law in Syria the statue of the


112

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

god Khonsou

Of the Tyrians

to cure his sister-in-law ?

throwing chains on the statue of Baal Melkarth vent his going over to the enemy bringing over the statue of the

to pre-

Of the Eomans

?

Magna Mater

Mount

of

from Pessinus, in order to secure

Ida, at great expense,

them the victory over the Carthaginians ? Of Stilpo, banished from Athens for maintaining that the Minerva of Pheidias was not the goddess herself ? Even in the last

days of paganism,

most intelligent

its

according to Arnobius, made

it

apologists,

consist in worshipping,

not the gold and silver of the idols, but the deities

which their consecration had brought down into them.^ Augustine reports Hermes Trismegistus as holding that " attaching invisible spirits to visible and corporeal St.

things by means of certain processes, in order that the latter

may become,

as

it

were, the animated bodies of

the spirits to which they are consecrated,

is

gods ; a great and marvellous power with which

endowed." 2

This

is

making

men

are

which the Negro sorFinn confrfere animating

a definition

cerer, in his fetish-shop,

and

his

a para, would readily accept.

In Polynesia, they make figures of carved wood into which the priests inject the souls of the dead or those of the gods according to taste

;

and when the

can be ejected again by drawing

it

feathers,

which

figures.

We

it

out into certain

in their turn can pass

may add

that

when

spirit is in,

it

on to other

these figures are with-

out occupants, they retain a sacred character, but no 1

Adversus Gentes,

vi.

17, cited

by Tylor, Primitive Culture,

vol.

ii.

p. 163. 2

Augustiue,

De

Civitate Dei,

viii.

23; apud Tylor,

vol.

ii.

p.

164.


POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

kind of worship

example

and

is

rendered them.

of the difference

This

is

113 a typical

between an image and an

idol,

also of the assimilation of the idol to the fetish.

This assimilation the form,

and

idol

it

often pushed so far that, but for

would be impossible

appropriation

to distinguish between

It is true that idols are often the objects

fetish.

of public worship

also, if

is

and would seem

may be

but the same

;

to escape individual

said of fetishes

they belong to a tribe rather than to a family or an

individual.

Such, for example, were the Bethels, those

"living stones," as

Sanchoniathon

calls

them,

which

figured as palladiums in more than one ancient city.

We

may

Western Africa how the

see in

transition

from

the private to the public worship of the idol-fetish takes place, cess.

without any modification in

its

nature in the pro-

It is often the domestic fetish of the chief

which

accomplishes on a large scale for the whole community, and

under the direction of the fetishes do

official sorcerer,

what private

on a small scale for individuals; presiding

over atmospheric changes, healing epidemics, denouncing criminals,

the

and

foretelling the future.

first idols of

What more

did

Greece, Egypt, India, or Assyria, do ?

The simplest origin of idolatry is as folSprings of idolatry, j^-^g Given the presence of a spirit in a certain object, the worshipper would feel himself in -

closer

communication with

it if

reproduced the likeness of the

But place,

other origins

may

the form of this object

spirit.

also

be found.

In the

first

any resemblance between a natural object and the

supposed form of a

spirit

would

raise a

presumption that

the latter was present in the former, just as the appearance I


114 of a

III.

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM:.

human body

is

evidence of the presence of the soul

The Zunis

or internal personality.

and the natives

of the "West

worship rocks or

human

trees,

place,

Many

own image.

peoples

this to accentuating the resem-

hammer is but a step.

men would imagine

would come by preference its

choosing

the outlines of which recall the

blance by a few strokes of the axe or

In the second

when

Indies,

to birds or animals.^

From

features.

North America

and scraps of wood that present

fetishes, prefer stones

some resemblance

of

to dwell in a

that the spirit

body made

after

In Chaldea and in Assyria, where

maladies were attributed to spirits that bore the form of fantastic animals, sters

it

was customary

round the palaces in order

exact representation of their

to carve these

to

own

oflfer

bodies,

the spirits an

and therefore

an abode preferable to the body of the invalid.^ the same with the Siamese, disease in

human

who

mon-

It is

represent the demons of

or quasi-human shape,

and make them

hang on

pass into clay figures, which they

trees or

expose in streams.^

Perhaps

Congo

it is

which reappears on the making images of the crocodile

this superstition

in the custom of

or the hippopotamus as a protection against the attacks of

these animals while crossing rivers.

the book of

Numbers

(xxi. 6

serpent, the Nehustan (2

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

Kings

So, too,

9) that

we

read in

Moses had a brass

xviii. 4), raised

on a

pole,

1 Im Thurn, On the Races of the West Indies : in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute, 1887, vol. xvi. p. 195. 2

C. P. Tiele, Religions de I'Egypte et des peuples simitiques, Paris,

1882, ^

p.

175.

Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol.

ii.

p.

162.


III.

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

115

for the Israelites to gaze at as a cure for serpent-bites.^

In virtue of the same

many peoples believe

principle,

the souls of the deceased pass

by preference

made

likeness.^

or portraits

own

in their

that

into statues

Long

before

Mr. Herbert Spencer, the author of the Wisdom of Solomon connected idolatry with the worship of the dead. " For a father

afl9.icted

with untimely mourning, when he

hath made an image of his child soon taken away,

now

honoured him as a god, which was then a dead man, and delivered to those that were under him ceremonies

and

sacrifices."^

New

The honour

by

Zealanders

of the deceased,

his tomb.

They

make images

of carved

and place them in

give these

little

wood

in

his house or

statues clothes,

and

talk to them, under the conviction that the spirit of the

Amongst

departed dwells in them.* ^

It is interesting to re-discover the

same

At Cowtha, near Koram,

is

India.

serpent-god Sufi-Nath,

whom

against the bites of reptiles. bitten,

he has only

there

the Papuans, -belief in

the depths of

a temple dedicated to a

them any one is

the worshippers pray to guard

The legend

declares that

to get himself carried to the

(Indian Messenger, Dec.

when

Amongst the

16, 1888).

if

temple to be cured ancients, ^sculapius

was the serpent-god, or at any rate his worship, which was of Phoeniwas connected with that of the serpent, regarded as the image of Eshmun. This belief in the curative virtues of the serpent According to Livingstone, "the reappears in the centre of Africa. serpent is an object of worship, and hideous little images are hung in David and Charles Livingstone, the huts of the sick and dying." and its Tributaries, London, to the Zambesi Narrative of an Expedition cian origin,

1865, p. 46.

Herbert Spencer, Sociology,

2

Cf.

3

Wisdom of Solomon,

*

§§

154—158.

xiv. 15.

Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol.

ii.

i2

p. 159.


116

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

any one

dies, the survivors

go to the neighbouring forest

Korwar out of a bit of wood, and then they invite the spirit to come and live in it. The Ostiaks and the Samoyeds make rough statues in In the likeness of their relatives, and ofier them food. and cut a

the same

statuette or

way

the ancient Egyptians multiplied statues

"These

in their tombs, as receptacles for the double.

M. Maspero, "were more solid than the number of them that could be made. A single body offered the double one chance of survival twenty statues gave him twenty statues," says

mummy, and

there was no limit to the

;

chances."^

Sometimes

this belief is

combined with the idea that

The

the double survives in the bodily remains.

ancient

Mexicans made a paste of the ashes of their dead and

human

blood,

and then made an image

of the deceased out of

Amongst

it.

in the likeness

the inhabitants of

Yucatan, the distinguished dead were burnt, and their cinders placed in statues, hollowed inside.^

unlike the proceedings of the Egyptians lid of the

sarcophagus that contained a

in.

This

is

not

covering the

mummy,

with

the sculptured likeness of the deceased.

But we must not conclude its

that idolatry always had

origin in the worship of the dead.

We

have already

seen that the idol often issued from the fetish. cases

we may

attach

it still

more

directly to

object previously personified.

In other

some natural

Pausanias speaks of a

sacred tree that the Coriathians worshipped in honour of 1

Maspero, Histoire dcs dmes dans I'Egypte ancienne

de V Association scientiflque de France, 1873, ^

Herbert Spencer, Sociology,

vol.

i.

p.

:

in the Bulletin

vol. xxiii. p. 381.

327.


POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

HI.

Bacchus at the command

an

of

They made two

oracle.

wood

statues to this deity out of the

117

of the tree, and in

the time of the writer these statues were

the object

still

of special veneration in the agora at Corinth,^ Antilles,

where the

In the

sorcerers profess to understand the

language of plants, they make idols out of the wood of trees

supposed to have nominated themselves for the

distinction.^

we have

Moreover,

already had occasion to point out

that the form of the idols

may vary

it

infinitely,

not always human.

is

provided

something living, as we

may

Indeed,

always represents

it

from the frequent

see

occurrence of idols of animal or fantastic shape.

In the long run, however, the human form gained the preponderance in the representation of the most powerful spirits,

whether because man had now come

to regard

himself as the most exalted being in nature, and

not what

better to do than to attribute his

to the higher to

powers

the deities

instinctively

or whether,

;

knew

features

dint of attributing

sentiments and motives, he was

human

drawn

by

own

to lend

them the human

figure like-

Perhaps the transition between the two forms is marked by those idols with a human head and an animal wise.

human

body, or an animal head and a

body, which

we

find in the temples of the Egyptians, Hindus, ancient

Americans, and others.

Some authors have attempted Relation of idolatry to

symbolism,

i

to discover ±

ii

marvels of symbolism in these monstrous They maintain, for example, p^j^^i^ations. ^

Pausanias,

2

Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol.

ii.

2. 7. ii.

p.

197,


118

III.

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

that the artist started with the

human form

in his repre-

sentation of the gods, but introduced wings to indicate

power

their

that they could lire in the water, a lion's

show

fins to

body

of transporting themselves through space,

to denote their courage, or a bull's

head to repre-

sent their strength, just as he sometimes gave

number

arms or heads with the same

of

them

a

intent.

Unquestionably, the most enlightened exponents of the

ancient worships thus interpreted the monstrous

forms of their gods at a period when they began to cause

but

scandal;

" Animal forms

M. Maspero cate

less

evident that at

first

was believed in. in which the gods were clothed,"

of these representations

the reality

deities,

none the

it is

well remarks,

apropos

of the Egyptian

" have not an allegorical character.

They

indi-

an animal- worship which reappears in more than one religion.

The ambiguous forms them-

selves, half -man, half -beast,

simply prove the ignorance

ancient and

modern

and credulity of the ancients in the matter of natural history." 1

Since the presence of such creatures on earth

was supposed to be possible, a fortiori the superhuman world might he peopled by them; for their very grotesqueness gave an extra assurance of the reality of

At

their existence.

the outside,

if

we

are to allow

anything at

all to

the invention of the artist or the

mythologist,

we can

only admit that the grotesque combi-

nation was due to a naive desire to give a more adequate representation of

superhuman beings, by combining with

the traits derived from man, the forms of beasts consecrated

by '

tradition, and,

for that matter, necessary to

Revue de I'Histoire des Religions,

vol.

i.

p.

121.


III.

indicate

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

the individuality

119

the various deities.

of

appears that in the hieroglyphics of the

jB.rst

It

dynasties,

the great deities of Egypt are invariably represented in the shape of animals.

But many the theory

writers have gone far beyond this.

is still

widespread that idols are symbols, the

original significance of tion.

Indeed,

which has been

lost

According to this theory, which

by degenera-

is

outlined as

early as in the Wisdom of Solomon, idolatry in general

would represent, not an advance, but a degradation. Man, after having conceived the deity as pure spirit, figured

it

forth symbolically under material traits, and

then came to regard these supposed portraits as divine individualities, the

temporary or permanent abodes of

the gods. I

am

far

from denying that in certain cases an image

may have become an

idol

purpose being forgotten.

by

its

primitive meaning and

History shows us indubitable

examples of religious decline in which

idolatry, always

latent in the popular superstitions, re -ascends, as to the surface of worship.^

In the bosom

system the image, which in the mind of its

its

it

were,

of the

same

author or of

reproducer has a merely symbolic significance,

become a veritable fetish to others. which are explained by survivals or

But these

may facts,

local infiltrations,

1 The example of Buddhism is familiar. Surely nothing can he more contrary to the teaching of Buddha than the idolatrous worship with which the masses now surround his images ; and in like manner the emperor Si-tzong, in the 16th century, was ohliged to combat a

by forbidding the erection of images of Confucius in the temples raised to his memory. De Harlez, La religion nationdle des

similar abuse

Tartares orientaux, &c., Brussels, 1887.


120

POLTDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

cannot weigh, against the combined observations of etb-

nograpby and

history,

which everywhere show us

by a

issuing from fetishes

series of easily-traced steps.

The widespread worship a step in

endwise sooner

is itself

is

we

The same the wooden stake to which

stand on the threshold of

distinction

Baguirmis sorcerers,

of stones erected

absolutely fetishistic; but no

a spot of red painted on the stone,

as in Southern India, than idolatry.

of Africa,

may

be drawn between

sacrifices are offered

and the

staff

of the

with

it

as in the Society Islands,

stuffs

and ornaments,

where they worship a

frag-

Then

sculp-

mentary column clothed in native costume.

On

ture comes in.

already

the top of the pillar a rude head

this brings us to the hermes

mark

religious art. of

Brazilian

Sometimes they clothe the

the mouth.

stick or stone, covering

;

by the

surmounted by a gourd, pierced with a hole

to represent

carved

idols

and the

doll,

is

which

striking progress in the development of

Next, the limbs are traced on the stem

the column, and then carved out and thrown into

attitudes of life

and motion.

All these steps tropical Africa,

may be

traced amongst the Negroes of

where idolatry

is

no

than pure and simple fetishism.

Samoyeds, where

we

find,

side

less clearly

So, too,

by

side with complete

statues of a rude description, pillars

human

surmounted by a

head, and mere stones dressed in coloured

Perhaps you will ask parallel

developed

amongst the

me how

I

know

stuffs.

that these

forms succeeded each other in this definite order.

Apart from the

logical necessity of supposing that in art

and religion alike man advanced from more elementary


to

121

POLTDEMONiSM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

more higUy developed forms, we have in

tliis

case the

evidence of history, especially amongst that people in

which idolatry received

The Greeks began,

its fullest

like the rest,

development.

by worshipping blocks

stone and scraps of wood, regarded as the

of

Pausanias

of their deities,

tells us,

bodies

apropos of thirty

shapeless stones worshipped as gods at Pharae, in Achaia,

Greeks unhewn stones had in very

that amongst the

ancient times received divine honours.^

"The

natural

advance," says M. Maxime CoUignon, " consisted in giving shapeless stones a regular form, however rudimentary. -

.

^

Zeus and Hera are thus presented on the coins

.

of the island of Ceos.

image

of Zeus-Meilikhios

Patroa a column.

Hera

... At Sicyone, the most ancient

of

was a pyramid, that

of Artemis

Such, too, was the form of the ancient

Argos ; and perhaps we may discover a reference

to these old representations of the deity in a painting in

Pompeii, which represents a group of Eroses and a Psyche sacrificing before a column, attached to

and a

sceptre. ...

As

tures are added to these pillars

emblems.

This

is

surmounted by one

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;a head, arms,

the origin of the or

which are a

tiara

art advances, characteristic fea-

many

heads." ^

or phallic

Hermes column The same deve-

lopment takes place in wood as in stone: witness the transition from the square blocks which represent the first deities of

certain

Greek

cities, to

the xoana which

even in the best days of art were the most popular images

amongst the worshippers. It must not be supposed, for that matter, that even in 1

Pausanias,

2

Max

vii.

22. 4.

CoUignon, Mytholugie figuree de la Grhe, pp. 11

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 13.


122

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

in.

the most advanced religions the credit of an image proportionate to

merit.

A roughly coloured

an old saint who has almost

virgin, or

shape,

its artistic

-will

is

lost the

human

often excite a deeper veneration in simple

than a Madonna of Eaphael's or a statue by

souls

Michael Angelo. (ii.)

The

^^ is

great

nature-crods.

The Divine Hierarchy. amongst the populations

of incoherent

imagination, without stable social organiza-

and with little connection in their ideas, that fetishism and polydemonism reach their maximum of tion,

and smother

intensity,

The

genii of nature

other forms

all

—that

is

to say, the

of

worship.

superhuman

beings associated with the production of certain specific

phenomena,

and deriving some degree

of fixity

and function from the consciousness of this connection are, amongst such races, relegated more of sphere

and more little

to the

background by the puUulation of the

anonymous and detached powers, which the Negro,

the Eedskin, or the Australian feels far nearer to him,

which he understands how sesses, or

means

to

manage, and which he pos-

supposes he possesses, more direct and efficacious

of controlling.

Not

that the divinities of nature,

as representatives of natural

appear.

Their survival in the background

the case of

many

by the belief the sun

phenomena, entirely

in a

—who

is

attested in

peoples wholly given over to spiritism,

supreme god

—generally the heaven

or

sometimes made the creator, but from

whom they withhold of the spirits.

is

dis-

the attentions granted to the lowest

The Odshis hold the heaven

to

be the


POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

123

mightiest of deities, but they think he has delegated the government of the world to the inferior

Dahomey,

it is

but there,

too, his

the sun

who

spirits.^

In

occupies the supreme place

supremacy

purely theoretical.^ The

is

natives of Timor in the Indian Archipelago also regard

the sun as their chief deity

but they expect neither good from him, and explain that he is too high to trouble about them, and too good to injure them.^ Finally, the

nor

;

ill

homage upon the inferior the sun and moon used to love them,

Californians concentrate their spirits,

adding that

but that

now

these deities no longer concern themselves

with man.

In

this

vague notion

power or

his

is

of a superior

god who has

lost

inaccessible to emotion, the vanishing

traces of a previous

monotheism have sometimes been

found; but I believe what

really implies is simply

it

the existence of a phase of religion in which the regents of the heavenly bodies or the chief natural

phenomena

retained an importance proportioned to their real place in nature, while left to other

care

the

for

then, but nature-worship, that

Amongst

destinies

superhuman beings. is

man was

of

It is not monotheism,

presupposed.

other peoples of better mental endowments,

however, or more favoured by circumstances, the parasitical

growth of spiritism has

failed to stifle the

*

Waitz, Anthropologie, vol.

'

A. R^ville, Religions des peuples

'

De

cited

p.

171.

among

the Caribs.

p.

56.

According to

Du

norhcivilises, vol.

Backer, L'Archipel Indien, p. 227.

by Lubbock {Origin of

prevails

ii.

worship

Civilization, p.

i.

Tertre,

254), a similar notion


124

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

wHoh directly springs in my last Lecture.

of the great natural deities,

the physiolatry explained

Prof. Pfleiderer justly remarks

:

"

Though

out of

this belief

had great vogue among the Latins, no less than among the old Iranians, Slavs, Germans, and Pelasgians, yet there never was a time in any of these peoples when the spirits took the place of gods, and were the highest in spirits

or even the sole objects of worship."^

In

my

opinion,

not only the Greeks and Hindus, but the Egyptians, the Chinese, and even the Mesopotamians, might have been

added

to the list.

From

Let US take, for example, the words which ^ave served the Hindus and the Greeks

the

tSlodof the sky.

respectively to designate the celestial vault

and the ruler and Zeus

;

of the

in

heavens

:

in the one case, Ouranos

the other, Yaruna and Dyaus.

It is

probable that before their separation the Indo-Europeans already possessed the equivalents of these two terms to designate the heaven, under some such forms as dyu and

varana ; and whereas the Greeks apply the

names

to the celestial lord, Zeus,

firmament properly so

called,

ferentiated the other way, ^

first

of these

and the second

to the

Ouranos, the Hindus

making Varuna

Philosophy of Religion, London, 1888, vol.

iii.

p.

dif-

figure as the 111.

Professor

Pfleiderer has long contended that the religious sentiment must, in

have addressed

and phenowhich man invested them by analogy, though the distinction between this personality and its envelope or body was not very clearly drawn in the

the

first

instance,

itself to natural objects

mena, or rather to the quasi-human personality

consciousness.

1869, vol. ii

Der

Religion, ihr

vrith

Wesen und ihre Geschichte, Leipzig,


POLTDEMONISM AND POLTTHEISM.

III.

god of heaven, and Dyaus is

enough

tion

sky

to raise a strong

125

as the visible sky itself.

This

presumption that the distinc-

between the personified heaven and the god of the is

subsequent to the separate development of the two

languages

by the

;

and

this

presumption

Ouranos

fact that

logical personality

still

decisively confirmed

continued to be a mytho-

amongst the Greeks

the Hindus, as Prof.

Max

Dyaus was not only

;

whereas amongst

Miiller has luminously ex-

plained, traces are found in the

epithet of Pitar,

is

Vedas of a period when

personified but even received the

and was thus the

full equivalent of

the

Hellenic Zeus pater and the Latin Ju-piter.^

The very (i/xf^to-To?),

epithets assigned to him, the

the Thunderer

the Cloud-gatherer

{icepavvio's)^

(ve(pâ&#x201A;Ź\tjyepeT7j?),

Most High

the Eainer

and so

(ueVio?),

forth,

show

that the Greeks never lost the reminiscence of the time

when Zeus was

identical with the sky

or stormy manifestations.

whom

Latins, amongst

and

its brilliant

The same may be

said of the

such expressions as " sub Jove

vivere " for " to live in the open air," enlighten us as to

the primitive nature of the divine being, to

whom

an old

poet thus alludes "Adspice hoc sublime candens quern invocant omnes Jovem."

Here, again, the parallel with Varuna the Vedas, he

is

and sometimes

complete.

In

sometimes said to have created the sun,

it is

would depict him creator

is

Some

called his eye.

as a king

of the

hymns

and a judge, the universal

others say that he clothes himself alternately in

;

white and black garments, that the ^

Max

MuUer, Hihhert Lectures

celestial

waters flow

for 1878, p. 143.


126

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

in.

from his mouth as from the hollow of a reed, and that the celestial

fire

Amongst the it

Persians,

Ahura Mazda, the omniscient

a deity so completely disentangled from nature

lord, is

that

springs from his belly in the clouds.^

has often been doubted to what phenomenon he

could be attached.

Yet the hymns describe him

as clad

with a luminous, shining body, visible from afar; they call

him the

firmest of the gods because he is clad in

the firm stone of the heaven. ^

Herodotus

And,

for that matter,

calls attention to the fact that

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;that

the Persians

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

their supreme god on the " summits of mountains, giving the name of Zeus to the

worship Zeus

is to say,

whole sphere of heaven."^ Amongst the Egyptians, side

by

side

with the solar

disc,

Aten,

we

find the lord of the

Disc, and even "the hidden soul of the lord of the Disc."

Horns,

according to Maspero, before typifying the

too,

rising sun,

was previously the part

of the universe situ-

ated on high (hori), the actual substance of the firma-

ment, the heaven-father of the gods,

who was

insensibly

transformed into a separate god, living in the heaven.*

In Mesopotamia, Anu, "the hidden," represents the god of heaven, side by side with Ana, " the exalted one,"

who

So, too,

personifies the

heaven

itself.

amongst the Chinese we find Tien, the per-

*

Rig Veda,

^

James Darmesteter, Essais Orientaux, pp. 120, 121.

^

Herodotus, i 131.

*

La Mytlwlogie Agyptienne, in

viiL 41, 10. v. 85, 3,

the Revue de VHistoire des Religions

for Jan.-Eeb. 1889, vol. xix. p. 5. * Tiele, p.

187.

Histoire des religions de V'^gyjpte et des peuples semitiques,


III.

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

and Sliang

sonified heaven,

Amongst the

Ti, the

celestial

127 emperor.

Yu-

Finns, TJkkho, the grandfather, and

who provided the deity when supplanted by XJkkho in his

mala, the god of Thunder,

generic

name

specific

for

relations with the firmament.

This seemingly contradictory duality of conception,

which applies

many

to

be explained either as a juxtaposition

who mingled

several communities

period or another,

or,

of the beliefs of

their traditions at

But

another without any mutual exclusiveness.

god

it

upon

in either

bears witness to a direct connection between the

and the

of the object

then, an early period in is it

some

more probably, as the mingling

of the beliefs of different epochs superposed one

case

may

other divine personifications,

deified object itself.

Admitting,

which nature-worship prevailed,

not obvious that the worship rendered to the rulers

of nature springs direct out of the worship offered to the

phenomena themselves? What need is there, then, to postulate an intermediate period in which the gods of these phenomena, having become simple spirits, were absorbed into the general rank, only to regain their primitive importance once more at a later period ? iN'ot only is evidence of any such interregnum totally personified

wanting, but

it

even appears

tliat

the very doubling of

heaven, of earth, of the sun, of the moon, of the dawn, of the storm, &c., into a visible or sensible

on the one hand, and the

nomenon on the

spirit presiding

phenomenon

over that phe-

other, has served to increase the religious

preponderance of the deities in question, by leaving the

god thenceforth and

so enabling

free

him

from the limitations of his body, to fulfil

more general

functions,

and


128

POLTDEMONISIvr

III.

to exercise his activity in a

more extended sphere. Thus

men and

the Zeus, father of

AND POLYTHEISM,

gods, ruler of all things,

guardian of the family and of the

and avenger of perjury, than even the Zeus

who

more august personage

scatters the rain over the fields

of his brow.

On the promoted

a far

wisdom,

makes Olympus tremble with the

of the Athenians, or

noddiag

is

city, inspirer of

to

other hand,

it is

probable that even

amongst the peoples most predisposed

to the

worship of nature, when certain

(from

spirits

whatever cause) had acquired marked pre-eminence, they frequently took their place at the head of the super-

human world

side

by

side

with the great deities of nature.

This must have been the case with the spirits to

whom

the production of the abstract phenomena most closely

concerned in the destiny of is

man had been

ascribed.

It

probable that the gods of disease, of war, of death, of

plenty,

and

of

certain moral qualities,

were in many

cases not nature gods, but spirits directly created on

the analogy of the superhuman powers whose action was

supposed to be manifested in natural phenomena and the ordinary events of

life.

Even the most backward peoples

are not without their abstract deities, or rather their deities

of

who produce

abstract phenomena.

Malacca attribute every disease to

its

was the same with the early Chaldeans.

The Mintiras

own

hantu.

It

In Polynesia,

as formerly in Mesopotamia, every part of the

body has

The Iroquois, the Araneans, the Museronghis of the Lower Congo, the Khonds, and the Maoris, all have gods of war. The Iroquois have a spirit of its

special spirit.

sleep,

and the Ojibways a god of death represented

as a


III.

POLTDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

walking skeleton.

In Shintoism,

wliicli affirms

129 the exist-

ence of eight million deities recruited from the souls of heroes, the rivers, the mountains, the waterfalls, and the

great trees, the only gods particularly adored throughout

the empire, apart from the great solar deities, are the

and of Medicine.^ It is no great from these abstract personifications to the Pantheon

genii of Pity, of Wealth, step

of the

Eomans, where, as M. PreUer points

deities of all the events alike of nature all

the vicissitudes of

relations

and

all

human

life

and

the enterprizes of civil

and

we

out,

of

humanity,

activity, life.^

find

It

all

the

was the

same with the Greeks, though there the tendency was restrained

by

their anthropomorphism.

Plutarch

tells

us

that Themistocles, having levied a contribution on the

Andros in the name of two deities. Persuasion and Force (IleiOu) km Blav), the inhabitants refused, invokisland of

ing the commands of two quite equally potent

Poverty and Incapacity (Uevlav

koI A-Troplav).^

deities.

We

must

note, however, that

where such personifications mount

to the first rank, as

amongst the Parsees and the Brah-

mans,

it is

generally

dint of a very advanced system

by

of metaphysical speculation. Apotheoses of men.

Under the category ^ higher grade,

of illustrious personages sorcerers,

warriors,

may likewise figure the

who have

and

of spirits promoted to

others.

actually lived

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

souls

chiefs,

Generally speaking,

savages accord the dead a worship proportionate to the ^

Isabella

Bird,

Shintoism, in Religious Systems of the

World,

London, 1890, pp. 98, 99. "

PreUer, Ramische Mythologie, Berlin, 1858, pp. 45, 596

*

Themistocles, xxi.

K

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;631.


130

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

vividness of

tlie

They mostly

whom

tives

recollection they

have

left

behind them.

confine themselves to invoking the rela-

"Ask

they have personally known.

Negro," says M. du Chaillu,

"where

is

great-grandfather, he says he does not know,

Ask him about

it is done.

the spirits of his father or brother

died yesterday, then he

is full

of fear

the

the spirit of his

and

terror."^

who But

on the shores of the Tanganyika and the neighbouring country, Lieutenant Becker tells us that the shades of

" They

certain illustrious dead escape this oblivion.

make them

public sacrifices to them, and the tribe considers its

Amongst the Ama

permanent protectors." ^

Zulu, Bishop Callaway

the worship of ancestors

tells us,

They do not

does not extend beyond the father.

much

as

know

Nevertheless the whole nation places at the head of

innumerable

creator, the legislator,

would be hard

to say

who

is

regarded as the

ancestor.

No

doubt

whether in this case

it is

a real

and the

who has been

progenitor

its

superhuman being named 'Mkulu-

spirits a

kulu, the great -great -father,

it

so

the names of more distant ancestors.

first

raised to the dignity of uni-

versal creator, or a nature-spirit that has been promoted to the

rank of ancestor; but the same

with regard to almost

all

the

gods

difficulty exists

who have been

regarded as founders of the race, or even of the state, such as the Hindoo Tama or the Peruvian Manco Capac. Certain natives of Siberia pay honours to the figures of the dead for three years

and heard 1

Du

'

J.

of

no more

;

but

;

if

after

which they are buried

the deceased

is

a celebrated

Chaillu, Transactions of the FAhnologicdl Society, vol,

Becker,

La

Vie en Afrique, vol.

ii.

p. 298.

i.

p.

308.


III.

POLTDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

131

shaman, his statue becomes the object of permanent sj^Q j^r^y gj^g

worship,!

f^j,

comparison the history of

Homer simply

^sculapius amongst the Greeks.

of JEsculapius as a faultless physician

(irirr/p

speaks

anvfxwv).^

Subsequently, as Herbert Spencer has pointed out, he

has altars and temples dedicated to him; his worship

extends from Asia Minor over the -whole Greek world, and at last he is hailed as " The guider and governor of the Universe, preserver of the

The question always remains

of the Immortal Gods."^

whether we have whether we are

to do

World, and guardian

with a historical personage, or

to see in this

god of medicine an ancient

serpent-god, or a representative of some natural pheno-

menon, or even, as M. Maury supposes, an ancient personification of fire,

In any

an analogue of Agni, the succourer.*

when we think

case,

of the important place

occupied by the worship of heroes in Greece,

we need

not be surprised to find the dead establishing themselves

even amongst the great gods of Olympus by

securing the attributes of more or less effaced nature-

We

gods.

may

say that in the classical mythology there

a continual cross-stream of influence between the gods

is

When

and the heroes. men,

it is

gods are represented as magnified

no wonder that magnified men should come

to

be regarded as gods. ^

vol.

Ad. Erman, Travels in ii.

Iliad, iv. 194,

^

.iElius Aristides,

*

London, 1848,

and elsewhere.

^

KoX

Siberia, Cooley's translation,

p. 51.

Opera, Oxford, 1722, vol.

vkp-iav crwTTjp tojv oXiay,

Kal

<f>i'iX.a^

i.

p.

37: o to ko.v

A. Maury, Religions de la Grece antique, Paris, 1857,

448 sqq.

k2

aytoi/

Ttav ddavdraiv. vol.

i.

pp.


132

At

Iir.

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

Tery day, India shows us the process of

this

apotheosis in the very act, at least in the case of the

secondary

deities,

whose ranks are constantly opened

the manes of di'^tinguished men, and, above

have made time.^

all,

to

such as

themselves objects of terror during their life-

It is true that their deification only rises to the

secondary rank

;

but at the time when Hindu mythology

and Hindu society

alike

were in course of formation, the

secondary divinities in their turn

may have had

facilities

for reaching the higher places in the Pantheon.

There

Genii of Species,

in^hich

is

yet another category of divinities

has exercised a certain influence on

the development of polytheism, though furnish

to

all

its

Comte would have

elements, and it,

less,

as

Auguste

I refer to the genii of species.

of a species implies

ralization too great for

many

reached the phase of spiritism.

have no general name for "

to

does not suffice

to explain the conception of spirits

detached from bodies.^

The conception

still

it

an

effort of

of the peoples

gene-

who have

The Kamtskadals seem fish " or " bird,"

and they

distinguish between the different kinds of living things

by the name of the month in which they most abound.^ The Damara of South Africa "has no one name for a river, but a different name for nearly every reach of

The Australians have

a

name

it."*

every species of vegetable and animal, but no general term for "tree," " bird," 1

Sir Ch. Lyall, Tlie Religion of

for

an Indian Province, in the Fort-

nightly Review for 1872, p. 133. 2

Philosophie Positive, second edition, vol.

'

S. S. Hill,

*

r. Galton, Tropical South Africa, London, 1853, p. 176.

v.

pp. 74 sqq.

Travels in Siberia, London, 1854, vol.

ii.

p.

402.


POLTDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

or " fish."^

133

humanity was

It is probable that primitive

equally incapable of forming such conceptions.

In time,

however, by diat of noting the identical characteristics of certain objects,

man came

to all their

them under

to classify

categories respectively determined

by the

ideal

common

traits

members, and thereupon the observation

certain properties shared

by a whole group

led to the formation of collective ideas

of

of species

still

wider in

common

to all the

their scope.

Thus from the existence trees

of traits

massed on certain spaces, the existence

lective individuality

or forest

was

we

inferred,

designate by the

of the col-

name

wood

of

and hence the existence of a

genius of the forests to govern the whole mass of

In the same way the similarity

trees.

of the ears of corn

common

birth to the idea of wheat, just as their tion produced the conception of harvest

in a genius of wheat or harvest.

The

;

gave

destina-

hence the belief

universal attributes

of water inspired the conception of a liquid element,

and

thence of a god of water; the general attributes of flames, the conception of an igneous element, and thence of a

god

of

fire.

The "Earth"

herself only seems to have

been conceived, and therefore only

who had

deified,

already reached a certain stage

development.

On

by peoples of mental

the lower levels of evolution, islands,

mountains, and special portions of land are deified

;

but

the spirit of generalization could not reach beyond some clearly determined portion of the

Each member its individuality, \

soil.

of these collective totals

and therefore

Encyclopedia Britanica, vol.

iii.

may

its special spirit p. 112.

preserve ;

but thŠ

Sub. "Australia,"


134

III,

POLTDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

genius of the species, from the very fact of

its

the whole, acquires a superior authority.

governing

Sometimes,

indeed, even though the idea of species or element has

been distinctly realized, the individual retain their independence,

spirits nevertheless

and are not subordinated, but

are merely divided into certain great categories corre-

sponding to the objects or to the phenomena, the directive principle of

which they represent.

Thus among the

Botocudos of Brazil, the Esquimaux, the Chinese, the Proto-Chaldeans, and others, the spirits are divided into of the woods, waters, earth, air, &c., as in the

spirits

Indo-European divisions,

the haltias,

spirits,

The Finns

traditions.

who

preside over the destinies of

There are haltias of rye,

species.

recognize these

but also believe in the existence of general

oats, grass, &c.,

and

they occupy an intermediate position between the ordi-

nary

spirits

and the great

An analogous

conception has been pointed out amongst

the ancient Peruvians. of animal

deities of nature.

They believed

that every kind

had a representative in heaven, charged with

watching over the species and providing for duction.

its repro-

This belief reappears in North America.

The

Iroquois hold that every species of animal and every variety of vegetable, has

its

special genius;

declare that the Manito adored under the is

not the ox

itself,

and they

form

of

an ox

but the Manito ox which

is

under

the ground and animates

all

oxen.^

Professor Sayce, in his profoimd and subtle analysis of the

Mesopotamian

religion, has

shown that Merodach,

Ea, Mul-lil, and other great gods of the Chaldean Pan1

De

Brosses,

Du

culte des

dieux fetiches, Paris, 1760,

p. 58.


POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

Ill,

theon,

may

well Laye been in their origia

bull, the fish, the antelope,

and

135

tlie

ox or

so forth, venerated for

the services they rendered to the local populations, sub-

sequently regarded as the tutelary deities of the indivi-

dual and the city, and finally confounded with the spirits of the planets

we

that case

and the great natural phenomena.^

In

ox

or a

are evidently dealing, not with an

serpent, but with the representatives of the respective species.

What

the Vedic Eishis adored on their hearths was

not the flame of Agni,

but

itself,

fire

who, " scattered in

personified under the all places,

name

remains one sole

and only king," as the hymn expresses

it.^

Amongst

the Greeks, Hestia was present in every flame

;

and

amongst the Romans, Ovid hints that when the ancients gathered round the hearth for their repasts, they believed

themselves to be hx the presence of the deity

itself.^

The gods of human groups, from the family up to the state, came into existence in virtue of the same principle Every group, that gave birth to the genii of species. however arbitrary, as soon as it had a distinct individuality,

had a claim

to a personality

which could repre-

it

seems to have been

the exception for that personality to

be created de novo,

sent and direct

like the

it.

Here, however,

Sometimes the part was taken by

Dea Eoma.

the patron spirit of the principal

we have

member

or family, as

seen in the case of the tribal fetishes of the

1

Hibbert Lectures for 1887, pp. 280â&#x20AC;&#x201D;300.

^

Rig Veda,

3

Fasti, vi. 305, 30&.

iii.

55, 4.


136

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III,

Or

Negroes.

was the soul

it

of

some

illustrious chief,

that

the tribal hero or the founder of the city, raised

whether amongst

them the

We

position.

this

to

cities

all

upon the

justified in asking

those Baalim which divided amongst

and petty

states of the Semitic world,

there might not have been lived

are

was

some who had actually

had afterwards assumed the

earth,

posthumous government of their

cities,

and had

finally

acquired the ordinary attributes of the nature-gods. again, the function of national or tribal patron

Or,

may have

been deliberately assigned to one or another of the gods representing the heaven, the sun, or the moon, in forgetfulness of the fact that these divine beings shine over

the world alike

all

or to

;

some other superhuman power

connected with natural phenomena of a character more susceptible of national appropriation, such as the genius

of some species, or an archetypal animal.

we

actually find to be the case

This

is

what

amongst the peoples

addicted to totemism.

must not expatiate on the strange custom of totemism, the study of which has been popularized by several eminent writers in England. Prom the reliTotemism.

I

gious point of view,

may be

defined as the worship rendered to the genius of some species of animal by a tribe

which regards

it

it

as its progenitor

and

its

patron.

We

should note that even amongst the Eedskins the totem or dodaim is not just an animal amongst the rest,

but an ideal individual which rules tives of its

animates

The

all the representa" species, a Manito ox under the earth which

all

the oxen."

inspiring motive of tptemism, I take

it,

is

found


POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

HI.

137

in the desire to give the tribe a representative of collective

serve as

personality to

its

This

protector.

its

representative at the same time (by the usual varrepov vpoTepov) explains the separate existence of the tribe It is obvious that in the choice of a totem, as in

itself.

the choice of fetishes, chance and even caprice take a

"We may, however, form an approximate

large share,

judgment of the probable genesis

of tribal

totemism by

observing what takes place in the case of individuals.

Sometimes

at the

moment

of birth the

women

of the

family repeat the names of a number of animals one after another,

and the

be the animal whose name his first cry.

totem for

child's is

all his life will

being uttered as he gives

Sometimes the child himself, when he has

reached the age of puberty, goes to a solitary place, and

totem the

first

and he then

seals

after offering a sacrifice chooses as his

animal he

sees,

his contract person.

On

;

by drawing a few drops

may

it

designated by the finally reached the

well be that families or

name

of

There

is

some animal may

conclusion that this animal

must have been their progenitor and tector.

of blood from his

1

the other hand,

tribes

have

dreaming or waking

pro-

is still their

nothing foreign to the mental and

religious habits of the inferior peoples in such reasoning.

Totemism, then,

is

met with amongst almost

that is 1

all

the

two worlds that live in isolated tribes but no reason for making it the primitive and neces-

races of the

;

Bancroft, Native Races of the Pacific States of America, vol.

pp. 740, 741.

Cf.

De

Brosses,

Du

i.

culte des dieux fetiches, pp. 46, 47.


138

POLYDEMONISM AND POIYTHEISM.

III.

sary phase of all religious development, as some writers

have done.

In a

-word, four categories of

have taken precedence

an early

of the

stage, especially

superhuman beings must

common herd

of spirits at

amongst the peoples predisposed

to a polytheistic conception of the universe

;

to wit, the

great deities of nature, the spirits that preside over the

most important factors of human destiny, the genii species

and

of the chief groups,

and the souls

of

of the

illustrious dead. ^. ,. â&#x20AC;&#x17E; , SuDordmation

In order, however, that '

this first difieren-

'

_

_

of spirits to

tiation should result in polytheism,

we need

another factor, the necessity of which has often been overlooked, namely, the subordination of the

gods; in a word, the establishment of a

spirits to the

hierarchy amongst the superhuman beings. Practically,

no doubt, the gods of polytheism are often

distinguished from the spirits simply

power, but that power

human

is

by

their greater

exercised on the mass of super-

beings as well as upon the mass of men.

ordinary spirits become their servants, their vassals

even a kind of

The

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;nay,

serfs attached to the soil or invested with

subordinate functions; unless, indeed, having failed to find

a place in the ranks of the divine army, they are treated as enemies

At

and rebels and

laid

under the imperial ban.

the same time that this subordination

developed,

movement

the

gods

themselves

of co-ordination.

A

undergo

:

being

parallel

certain number, some-

times determined by special circumstances, out for distinction

a

is

is

singled

three (the family triad), seven (the


POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

Ill,

seven planets

known

139

to the ancients), nine (the enneads

months

of the Egyptians), twelve or thirteen (the

of

the year), thirty-three (perhaps, amongst the Hindus, the year, the four seasons, and the twenty-eight days of

These special

the month).

deities,

whatever may be the

beings or the phenomena which they properly represent, are not only put at the head of the Pantheon, but have

a certain authority over the lower ranks of the divine

may

hierarchy, and

consequently come to be regarded as

ruling over the whole superhuman society.

This organization

is

demanded by the human mind,

which cannot be content

to leave the

the universe a prey to anarchy

but

;

government of

it is

not so

much

the result of philosophical speculation as a deduction

from the examples furnished by the organization of restrial

communities.

We

difEerent peoples conceived

may

ter-

note, in fact, that the

and developed

this divine

own approximation

hierarchy pari passu with their

to

political unity.

The

on the model of their own

societies

modelled

,,

ward

little

early stage to peoples

state of civilization.

,

The

still

.

in quite a back-

Jesuit Molina tells us

that amongst the Arancans the god Pillan

Togui (regent) of the invisible world.

surrounded by

whom he

communities

,

,

on earth, appears to have occurred at an

upon those 째 ^^'

idea of shaping the society of the gods

his

Apo-Ulmenes and

As

is

the grand

such, he is

his Ulmenes, to

confides the less important affairs.

" These

ideas," adds the sagacious observer, "are certainly very

rude

;

but

it

must be acknowledged that the Arancanians

are not the only people

who have

regulated the things of


140

III.

POLYDBMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

The Yorubas of Westthe missionary Bowen, have only one

heaven by those of the earth." ^ ern Africa, says

god

of heaven, just as

nation;

they have only one king

and as petitioners have

to

of the

approach the king

through the intervention of his servants, so

men

in

approaching the supreme deity have recourse to the mediation of the oresas or

spirits.^

The Kimbundas

of

the Congo say that Suku-Vanange, probably a personification of the celestial vault,

KUulu; and

more bad than good amongst

would be

intolerable to the poor Negro,

these

were

it

not that from time to time Suku-Yanange, driven

to desperation, issues

from his constitutional neutrality

strikes the worst of the Kilulu

Whether these

human

to the

as there are

spirits, life

and

hands men over

first

with lightning."^

attempts to construct a super-

hierarchy are really due to the influence of

Christian doctrines concerning the role of the deity and his agents, or whether they are to be attributed to the

spontaneous development of local spiritism, in any case

they retain traces of a certain casual and precarious character, like the trict of Africa, rise

Negro empires which, in every disand fall with equal facility, without

resulting in the smallest progress towards a permanent

national unity or political centralization even within a

limited area.

These divine hierarchies are seldom found

amongst peoples in the pastoral or nomadic stage of lization, or "^

p.

even amongst those agricultural populations

Ignatius Molina, History of Chili, English translation, vol.

84: London, 1809. ^ E. B. Tylor, ^-

civi-

II.

Primitive Culture, vol.

Hartmann, Les pewples de

ii.

p. 316.

I'Afrique, Paris, 1880, p. 184.

ii.


III.

in.

which the

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

village group is the nucleus of social orga-

Even in such cases, however, a kind

nization.

supreme deity

belief in a

141

is

of Platonic

But

not rarely professed.

polytheism of a really organized character

is

only found

amongst races who have attained a sentiment

of national

unity superior to the village and clan divisions, possessing

a

sufficient

traditions,

degree of culture to co-ordinate their religious

and above

all

enjoying a centralized adminis-

without which no permanent sovereign power

tration,

can be secured.

The Polynesians, when relatively advanced

first

stage of

were

discovered,

at a

and had an

civilization,

exceptionally rich Pantheon, in which the gods of the

elements were the heroes of adventures comparable to those of the Greek mythology of pre-Homeric times.

They even distinguished the tikis, or spirits, from the atuas, or gods. The former comprise certain animals, the souls of the dead, the guardian-spirits of families individuals, the genii of diseases,

The

fetishes.

and

latter include the

bodies and natural phenomena, to

finally

innumerable

gods of the

whom

celestial

the forms of

animals were sometimes attributed, at any rate

In

they visited the earth.^

New

and

Zealand, the

first

when place

was occupied by the cosmogonic couple Eangi (Heaven)

and Pepe (Earth), with

their children, the gods of the

winds, of the plants, of the fishes, of the forests, of men,

and 1

so on;

This

is

together with Tangaroa, the god of the

the explanation of zoolatry given by the Manguians.

animal gods,

of.

London, 1876,

W. W. p. 35.

Gill,

Myths and Songs from

the

On

South Pacific,


142 sea,

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

Maui, the god of the sun, a kind of Polynesian

Heracles, and his grandmother, perhaps a personification

In the Hervey Islands, other cosmic deities Vatea, half man and half shark, god of the sea

of the night.

appear

:

and of vegetation, or there

is

In the Sandwich Islands

of heaven.

a goddess of the moon, Hina, " the

woman

of the

white locks " in Hawai, Pele, the goddess of the great ;

local volcano.

And,

harvest, of fish,

and what

deities,

finally, there are

not.

gods of war, of the

The relative power of these

however, varies in the different archipelagos, and

in no case do

we

find that the tikis

have heen subordi-

nated to the atuas, or even that any attempt has been

made

to co-ordinate these latter,

of little insular states into

any more than the host

which the Polynesian

archi-

pelagos are divided.^

The mythology

of the Polynesians has sometimes been

compared with that of the Finns, in regard of religious development.

Amongst the

to its stage

latter,

however,

the subordination of the spirits begins to appear, inas-

much soil,

as the inferior spirits of forests, waters,

and the

are respectively grouped, as children or servants,

round the presiding couples they belong.

The water

of the

spirits

element to which

depend on Ahti and

Wellamo, god and goddess of the waters; the spirits

forest

on Tapio and Mielliki, who preside over plants

and the spirits of the soil on Tuoni and Tuona Akka, 1 On the religion of the Polynesians, consult Albert E6ville, Religions despeuples

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

ii. chaps. IL vi. Sir George Grey, PolyLondon, 1855. W. W. Gill, Myths and Songs from the South Pacific: London, 1876. Williams and Calvert, Fi^i and the Fijians: London, 1870.

non-civilises, vol.

nesian Mythology:


POITDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

But inasmuch

wh.0 rule over tlie subterranean world.^ as the Finns

were

still

143

in the pastoral age at the intro-

duction of Christianity, this organization of the divine society never passed the patriarchal type.

was formed

after the

model of the house, their Pantheon

after that of the family

god,

Their Olympus

Ukko

;

supreme

himself, the

was no more than a majestic shepherd who led the

clouds, his sheep, to their pasture.

Even

The divine ^°Indo Euro^^ peans.

the Indo-Europeans do not seem to

have possessed a regularly organized polytheism

before

their

Indeed,

dispersion.

who were perhaps the most backwe see that even the great gods drawn from the common fatherland Perun amongst the

ward

Slavs,

of all the branches of the race,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

(perhaps the Yedic Parjanya, god of thunder), Svarog

and Ogon (the respective equivalents of Svar the heaven, and Agni the

fire),

and even Bogu, the god

hardly rose above the crowd of worship.

And, on the other

side,

spirits in

of

heaven

the popular

the very history of the

terms (already recounted) that respectively served the

Aryans

of India

and those

of Persia to designate their

great gods, Devas and Ahuras, shows us that amongst

the Eastern Aryans the same terms were applied more

or less

indifferently to

originally

every category

superhuman beings.

of

Amongst the Aryans

of India, in the

social organization does not

appear to

beyond the patriarchal rule of clans

Vedic period,

have advanced much ;

at

any rate we can

discover nothing like the rigorous divisions of caste or '

and

A. E^ville, Religions des peuples iii.

non-civilises, vol.

ii.

chaps,

ii.


144

HI.

POLTDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

the organization of great unified monarcliies which, pre-

The

vailed subsequently.

closely attached to the

still

superhuman beings,

society of

phenomena

mani-

of nature,

fests a correspondingly unstable character,

almost amount-

ing to anarchy, corrected and perhaps to a certain point

Max

maintained by what Prof.

theism

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

to each

Miiller has called heno-

that is to say, the religious disposition to ascribe

god at the moment of invocation

all

the

attri-

This division, or rather this

butes of supreme power.

alternation, of sovereignity only extends to six or seven

The hymn

great natural deities.

of the legendary

Manu

Vaivasvata says that amongst the gods " there are neither

neither old nor young,

great nor small,

gods of the heaven ; Surya, the sun Agni, the

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

fire

are,

turn by

and are

still

more

merable

spirits to

space,

TJshas, the ;

dawn

and

Aditi,

turn, raised above all other gods,

clearly distinguished

from the innu-

be found in the popular

Amongst the Germans we tematization carried out

cultus.

find the mythological sys-

much

of the scale are the giants finally the

;

Soma, fermented drink

;

all

Varuna and Indra,

are equally great;" but practically,

and

further. elfs,

At

the bottom

then the Yanir, and

Ases or ^sir, ranked on a system which

cor-

German society. Odin, the -iEsir, like the German

responds well enough with that of

who

presides in the council of

chief in the assembly of free men,

His power

president of a republic.

by

that of Thor,

becomes a rebel

and even

of

no more than the is

almost equalled

Loki, until the latter

spirit.

Amongst the Greeks tial

is

state is still

of the

more

Homeric epoch, the

directly modelled

celes-

on that of


POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

in.

The

earth.

145

great gods correspond to the local kings,

whose assembly

is

presided over by the

King

men, just

of

as the Olympians gather under the presidency of Zeus

and the power

of the latter over his divine

colleaguesâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;

though clearly enough established in the sense boast that he

the mightiest of the gods^

is

absolute than that of

Agamemnon

the other side,

popular

has

the

over his

is

of his

no more

allies.

On

assembly of the Agora

counterpart in the gathering of

its

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

beings to learn the will of Zeus.

"We

all

the divine

may even add

that just as Grreece was never able to attain a national unity, so all the efforts of the philosophers failed to give

currency in the popular theology to a more advanced conception of the divine unity.

extremely

It is

difficult to reconstruct the

worship of

the Latins before the historical development of Eome,

but

it is

to the

them

probable that their numina were hardly superior

mass of

spirits,

in spite of the presence amongst

of certain great deities of nature,

cases from the

common fund

The organizing

faculty

of

drawn

Indo-European

in

some

traditions.

which characterizes the Eoman

genius found scope in the cultus earlier than in theology, and, with the exception of Jupiter, Mars, Neptune, the old Janus,

who

Juno and Yesta, the greater part

took the

first

of the deities

place in the worship of the

Eomans

were foreign importations, in some instances relatively late.

It is especially as the president of this divine

oligarchy that the old Jupiter Optimus Capitol became the special patron of

Maximus

the supreme government of the universe. >

Iliad,

viii.

L

17.

of the

Eome and assumed


146

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

Amongst the at

an early

Persians,

date,

monarchy was firmly established

perhaps under the pressure of a terrible

Ahura Mazda,

struggle -with the Turanian populations.

"the omniscient lord," naturally assumed the absolute sovereignty over the propitious powers since his imme-

was that

diate function

of light in their contest

of generalissimo of the armies

with the powers of darkness.

The old deities of Here the hierarchy is complete. nature, and certain great abstractions, personified by stress of circumstances, are the generals and captains of the

celestial

Amesha

army.

They

Napat, god of

;

Nairyo Sanha, god of

concealed in the waters

fire

of the drink of immortality;

who throws

of the dog-star;

come the mass

and Anahita, goddess

divine society in

;

Apam

Haoma, god

of the wind,

he

Tistrya, genius

of fertility.

Lastly

of Pravashis, including the divine proto-

just,

and the genii of pure things.^ _

find the

forms of

;

;

fire

peoples to Quitting "* ir tf o the Indo-European f study the polytheism of other races, we

,.

,

Yayu, god

the storm against the wind

plasms of the

then,

"Worshipped ones," and amongst them

Mithra, god of light

The

the six

Qpentas, the "Beneficent Immortals;"

the Yazatas or

'

include, firstly,

same correspondence between the

political institutions

divine society.

and the organization of the

Egypt before Menes appears

to

have

been divided into independent nomes, in each of which a certain

number

of

gods, properly so called,

beside and above the spirits. ^

Tiele, Outlines of the

appear

It seems that before the

History of Religion, &c., translated by Car-

London, 1877, §§ 102—104, pp. 168—172. J. Darmesteter, Ormazd et Ahriman, Paris, 1877, chap. vi. Eug. Burnouf, Commentaire

penter,

sur

le

Yagna.


POLYDEMONrSM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

147

beginnings of Mstory these

little local Pantheons had undergone a certain concentration by the establishment of triads and enneads, the principal member of which

often received the title of supreme god. But, as M. Maspero well observes, " the supremacy of these highest and

even unique gods was confined to the limits of their respective nomes. Divine feudalism," continues this acute historian, "is the primordial fact of the religion

Egypt, as human feudalism

of its

the primordial fact of

is

history."! """^

The

divine societies of the Semites.

Mesopotamia, the

inhabitants of

Chaldea appear to have placed a certain

number above the

first

spirits,

of

superhuman powers (an or

dingir)

before the epoch at which their history

These beings were the rulers of the principal

begins.

natural phenomena, but were supposed to have

made

the world and to be man's protectors against the attacks of evil spirits. of

heaven

;

Above

all

stood Ajaa, the personification

Ea, the spirit of the earth

the subterranean world

;

the Sun

;

the

;

Mul-lil, ruler of

Moon

;

Istar, the

evening star ; perhaps the gods of the other planets then

known

;

and

finally,

mere uttering of

the gods of

fire

and the storm. The

names was enough

their

to

put the

and the power of the name rose with " The most irresistible of all the the rank of the deity. powers resides in the mysterious name which Ea alone

demons

knows. earth,

to flight

;

Before that name, everything in heaven, on

and below, must

yield.

The gods themselves

are

chained by that name and obey it."^ ^ ^

Revue de Fr.

I'histoire des Religions, vol. xix. p. 11.

Lenormant, La Magie

cliez les

l2

Chaldeens, Paris, 1874,

p. 40.


148

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

This, however, is only a magical exaggeration,

and

at

the outside amounts to nothing more than henotheism.

"Thou

alone art exalted," says the

hymn

to the

Sun;

The Prefect King

"amongst the gods thou hast no equal." ^

of Kalakh, in an inscription bearing the date of

Eaman-ninari trust in

Nabu

god."

other

III., does

not hesitate to say:

"Put your

[the god of the scribes], and trust in no

Elsewhere Bel

2

the lord and

called

is

Gradually some kind of order

the creator of the gods.

introduced amongst the host of deities (there are pas-

is

by grouping

sages which speak of sixty-five thousand^)

them

into triads, the

members

to the city, the province,

Anu

is

(the

Sin,

god

of the

of the

sun

;

into a

Sometimes

or the state.

god

ancient Ana,

Ea transformed

which vary according

of

god

of

heaven), Bel, and

Sometimes

of the ocean.

moon, the god of gods

and Eimmon, god

it

Shamas, god

;

of the wind.

But even

these triads appear to be rather a juxtaposition of deities

than a combination tending to unity.

It

was otherwise

with the Assyrians, whose bent was to form a military

monarchy, the type of which

is reflected

tion of their divine world.

At the bottom of the then come the

the innumerable host of spirits

is

who may be

in the organiza-

5

scale

gods,

likened to officers and imperial functionaries

above them are the chief

deities,

varying in number on

the different inscriptions, sometimes thirty -six, some-

times thirteen or twelve, sometimes seven. 1

Schrader, cited by

De

Pressens^, JJancien

isine, p. 63.

Eng.

2

Tiele, Outlines, &c,, ยง 47,

2

Sayce, Hibhert Lectures for 1887, p. 216,

,tr.

p. 78,

munde

These are et le christian-


III.

we

"wliat

who

The

149

and generals

of Assur,

miglit call

â&#x20AC;˘who himself

despot

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

is

tlie

ministers

the celestial prototype of the all-powerful

presides over the destinies of Assyria.

religion of the Assyrians,

however, had been

modified by contact with Proto-chaldean a pure type of Semitic religion

Here we

lations of Syria.

beliefs,

we must turn to

and

for

the popu-

the mono-

find, not, indeed,

theism so long supposed to be proper to the genius of the Semitic race, but something very like monolatry,

inasmuch as

it

god regarded

as supreme,

often reveals the adoration of a local

and

so far exalted

above

all

other gods as to sink the latter even lower than the

But here we have

spirits.

occasion to distinguish between

the populations of the shore, where the easy conditions of

life

early developed a rich mythology, and those of the

inlands,

amongst

whom the rugged aspects

duced a severer conception

of nature pro-

of the divine order.

Amongst

these latter, the imagination was more impressed by the

imposing unity of the forces of nature than by the incessant variety of their manifestation.

dominates that of matter, and thus the are

much

more

less varied if

all

that

is

idea of force

not less numerous.

like one Eloh, says

whence

The

superhuman beings Nothing

is

M. Eenan, than another Eloh

required

is to

give these elohim a chief

to direct them, and we have a god whose pre-eminence

no

rival will dispute.

amongst albthe western Semites the very names of the gods express a general and abstract idea of force and power rather than a determinate individuality. It was long supposed that the names of Baal, Adon, For the

rest,

Moloch or Melek,

El,

Qedeq,

Kabba,

Asherah, &c.,


150

in.

denoted so

POLYDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

many

the whole race.

divine personalities, worshipped

Now we know

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;master, &c. â&#x20AC;&#x201D;under

word

generic names, titles in a

the mighty, the just, the lady,

by

that they were simply

group of populations designated

its

lord,

king,

which each

chief deity.^

It

is

probable that in every state the divine king adopted

as

supreme patron was surrounded by a court of secon-

dary deities or subordinate

spirits

fulfilling

all

the

Tahveh Yahveh Qebaoth, god of the celestial armies, was surrounded by a veritable divan, in which the first place was held by a kind of " seraskier" or generalissimo, as M. Eenan has it, the archangel Michael, and a grand offices of

the government and the household.

himself, the

vizier,

the Mal'ak, the angel charged with communica-

tions to

man. Then came the other angels, the cherubim

and seraphim and the bene-elohim.

The conception

of

the superhuman world probably

from this type amongst the Philis-

differed very little tines, the Moabites,

and the other more or

less

indepen-

dent peoples that covered the Syrian region bordering on the desert, and even some of the cities of Phoenicia.

At

Beyrout, they specially worshipped the seven Kabires,

but there came a time at which they placed the eighth (Eshmun) above them, and he became the chief deity, whether his name conceals a god of nature, or whether we should see in him a

probably planetary deities

;

pure creation of theological speculation.^

^

Tiele, Eeligions de

pp. 281 sqq. 2

lUd.

p.

307.

V^gypte

et

des peujplcs semitigues, Paris, 1882,


POLTDEMONISM AND POLYTHEISM.

III.

The

The new world,

divine

at the period of the first

^^^^opean invasion, presented every degree

the^ AzTecs

and

151

and type

incas.

by

alike of religious

and

social organi-

side with rudimentary forms

which

have survived to our own day in the customs and

beliefs

Side

zation.

of the aboriginal peoples, the Spaniards

found

communities at various levels of polytheism. theism was

still

in

an early

stage,

civilized

This poly-

though the peoples

America and Mexico had a highly developed

of Central

They worshipped

mythology.

the

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;that

teotl

is to say,

the chief personifications of the elements, conceived under

names and in forms which varied from of civilization but while raising some

centre to centre of these deities

;

to the

rank of

official

protectors

and mythical

legislators,

they never seem to have enrolled them in any regularly This

hierarchy.

classified

is

because,

as

M. Albert

Edville has shown, these peoples never had a unified

and centralized empire, but only great states exerting a

federations,

and

temporary preponderance.^

Further south, on the other hand, the Peru of the Incas presents the type of the most centralized state

which our planet has ever known; and

this centraliza-

tion has its counterpart in the organization of the divine

world.

The Inca was supposed, not only

be commissioned

from the sun, but

to

government

solar deity

of the

to

be descended to

apply the

on earth; and just as

everything in the empire was subordinated to the Inca,

everything in the heavens was subordinated to the Sun.

The 1

latter

E^ville,

had a court in which the moon, the great

Les Religions du Mexique, &c.,

p.

23

:

Paris, 1885.

the same author's Hihbert Lectures for 1884, pp. 28, 29.

Cf.


152

III.

POLYDEMOmSM AND POLYTHEISM:

planets and principal constellations appeared.

Others,

gods who must once have been almost as important as himself

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Yiracocha,

become

his children or his ministers.

In the

The divine

official

.

°

.

which I have given

ples, is carried still further.

date

we

of earth,

many examFrom an early-

so

upon that

find a divine state closely modelled

and the

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; had

religion of China,> the paral1-

.

lelism of

society in

Pachacamac, and Catequil

different stages of the respective orga-

At emperor who

nizations are closely connected one with the other.

the

head stands Shang-ti, the

celestial

watches over the general interests of the world terrestrial emperor, the

for the

government

of

"son

of heaven,"

is

the

;

his deputy

men, and, moreover, has exclusive

charge of the worship demanded by his superior. like

manner the

chief functionaries preside over the

worship of the great provinces and

In

spirits of

cities,

their respective areas

nature

;

the governors of

over that of chief local deities of

and

;

finally,

the father of the

family over the worship of the manes of his ancestors

and the rank and

file

of spirits.

Confucius declares

that the functionaries of the State are the servants of

heaven, just as the Li-ki says that the spirits are the functionaries of Shang-ti. It is interesting to note that

men

have, in every case,

been conscious of this parallelism spontaneously blished between the celestial

earth;

but,

always the

by a common

human

society

kingdom and the

esta-

states

on

illusion of perspective, it is

which has been supposed

be modelled on that of the gods.

to


Lectxjre IY.

DUALISM. (i.)

The

STutrGOLE for Order.

now we have the gods arranged in a society like that of man. What will be the object of the organization ? What will be the goal it proposes to itself? I was So

going to say, what will be

In the

Contracts of

its

platform

first place, it

?

will be the interest of

^thTsupM-^ its own members. The gods pursue their own beings, good, and have no scruple in naively avowing

human

an egoism copied from that of their worshippers. important poiat to notice, however, of the gods

may

in various

ways

is,

The

that the interest

coincide with that of

their worshippers.

On with

the one hand, the latter might enter into a treaty

their gods founded on reciprocity of service

;

whence

the two-fold consequence, that the gods would be interested in the prosperity

and aggrandizement

of the nation

that had adopted them, and that they would be opposed to the gods of the neighbouring nations

respective subjects fell into conflict.

whenever their

Even savages show

a tendency to put themselves under the protection of their

own

ancestors and fetishes, as a defence against

those of neighbouring peoples. spirits

And

if

they rank the

in general amongst these hostile powers, it is


154

DUALISM.

IV.

because, being

more or

less

detacbed and anonymous,

tbey represent tbe stranger, and to tbat extent tbe enemy.

In polytbeism we bave no longer to deal witb isolated powers,

but witb pantbeons organized by nations or

groups of nations

buman

and tbe

;

relations

between tbese super-

communities are again modelled on tbose of eartb.

Mytbology favours yet anotber order of conceptions wbicb directly tends to turn tbe efforts of tbe gods towards tbe good of man,

regaiating

or at least towards one of tbe most necessary conditions of bis existence, namely, an establisbed order in nature. I

mean by mytbology tbe transformation

of natural

pbenomena or abstract events into personal adventures ascribed to superbuman beings.

tbe scope of

my

It does not enter into

by wbicb we

plan to expound tbe rules

must interpret mytbology

;

and

principles of tbe rival scbools

still less

to f atbom tbe

wbicb trace tbe mytbo-

logical stories respectively to oblivion of tbe primitive

meaning of words,

to

distortion

of bistory, or to tbe

purely fantastic action of tbe savage imagination.

wbatever

its origin,

mytbs a tendency

we

discover at tbe base of

to personify tbe details as

But, tbe

all

weU

as

tbe forces of nature, and to attribute to tbese imaginary personalities conduct like tbat of

buman

beings,

but

powers far transcending tbose of man. .

In nature-worsbip

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;tbat

is

to say, as long as personified

objects are looked on as tbe bodies of spirits

act tbrougb

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;we

tbem

wbicb

perbaps get no furtber tban

dramatizing tbe most cbaracteristic of tbe actual relations

between tbe objects concerned.

Tbe storm

will be

regarded as a figbt between beaven, or tbÂŤ sun, and tbe


The

Storm-cloud.

155

DUALISM.

IV.

occultation of the heavenly bodies will

be represented as their consumption by a monster. creation will be attributed to a union, or perhaps original separation, of the

May

heaven and the

be the formation of these

ceded by a period in which

phenomena his

own

by

of nature

experience.

man

to

an

earth.

myths was pre-

first

simply depicted the

dravm from

isolated analogies

Thus,

The

before representing the

storm as the marriage of the heaven and the earth, or as the battle of the sun with the storm-cloud, with

the wealth of

detail

that

constitutes

charm of

the

Indo-European mythology, he must have conceived of the rain as seed, the production of crops as birth, the clouds as an

army

of monsters or giants, the

sun as a

dart-hurler, the lightning as a celestial weapon,

and the

thunder as the voice of an invisible warrior or the shock

arms in the sky.

of

Mythical elements remain at this

undeveloped stage amongst peoples whose imagination is too

poor (like that of the Chinese), or too random (like

that of the Negroes), to group these rudimentary conceptions into a general whole

;

combine into complete dramas

we

but elsewhere they early of nature, like those

which

trace in the earliest religious texts of the Chaldeans,

the Egyptians, and the Indo-European peoples.

"When, as

human thought

advances,

men

reach a juster

conception of the impersonality of things, they find a

growing

difficulty in

making

celestial or earthly objects

take the part of quasi-human persons.

But we must not

forget that the personality of these objects has not

disappeared

;

it

has simply escaped from

rule from outside.

Thus

it

preserves

its

its

envelope to

former

attri-


156

IV.

butes and

dualism:.

and on the

old relations on the one hand,

its

new personality approximates to the

other hand, as

its

human

lends itself more readily to combinations

form,

it

modelled on the

of

life

man.

"Was

it

not in Greece

human

that the deities of nature approached the

most closely both physically and morally not there too that mythology acquired sion

and exercised

And

?

its

type

"was it

widest exten-

deepest influence ?

its

In the long run, however, when the bonds connecting the spirits of things with the things themselves were

once broken, these superhuman beings would inevitably

be credited more and more with actions that had nothing in

common with

the mutual relations of the phenomena.

The gods would tend rical personages,

and even

tend to attach till

to

annex the exploits of

real heroes

of the creatures of the popular fancy.

myth would be ality,

and

to transform themselves into histo-

it

lost in itself to

The

the tale or legend, or might even

any casually determined person-

became impossible

to distinguish

between

a god transformed into a hero, and a hero transformed into a god.

These adulterations have given Kelations of

.

mythology and distinction '

rise to a

.

between mythology and religion

the latter including the sentiments that

cherishes with respect to his gods

;

;

man

the former, the stories

which he accepts concerning them, or rather the deeds and exploits which he attributes to them. But do not the sentiments

we

experience towards any one largely

depend on the idea we have formed sition,

and doings?

mythology has

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;that

to tell

is

of his nature, dispo-

to say, precisely

concerning the gods

?

on what


IV.

If "we

make

DUALISM.

a distinction at

157

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;and, seeing how small

all

an influence many myths exercise on the religious feelings and on the worship, I am inclined to think we should of

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

it

should be based on the fact that a whole class

myths simply minister to human man's relations to the gods.

curiosity,

the myths professing to explain the

without

Such notably are

affecting

first

origin of pheno-

mena, without concerning themselves with their main-

Tor in truth

tenance or their reproduction. future,

and not the

past, that

on which the religious sentiment feeds; so this point of view,

it

is

the

awakes the hopes and fears that,

from

the traditions connected with the

present and future course of phenomena have vastly greater importance than those that refer to the formation of the universe,

though the

latter

no

less

than the

former present themselves in mythological guise,

as

moment in the men must believe

recording the definite events of a given past.

Again, to

feel this importance,

the traditions to be something more than stories in-

vented for their pleasure

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;more

even than a faithful

record of historical facts which are

now

past and done

Then, but then only, will mythology become

with. religion,

when

it

represents the most important deities

as strengthening the action of the beneficent

phenomena,

over which they preside, against the efforts of the beings

who

regulate

or

produce

the

maleficent

phenomena

opposed to them.

Hence grows a dualism which

finds its first applica-

tion on the field of the conflicting forces that

the two great primary necessaries of

But, with the aid of mythology,

it

life,

light

affect

and food.

soon comes to embrace


158

DUALISM.

IV.

These

the whole mass of superhuman beings.

latter

are divided into two camps, according to their nature or affinities.

Man

himself soon

falls into line,

and not

only ofiers his divine defenders sympathy, but actively

them by his prayers and praises, strengthening them by his sacrifices and incantations, and abstaining from all that might hamper or enfeeble their action. Hence another bond of union is contracted between man and the gods, whom he now feels to be fighting in the same army and espousing the co-operates with them, encouraging

same cause with himself. This dualism based on natural phenomena

Progress and ^^'of^atarai'"' dualism,

appears but

little

developed amongst peoples

^t the first stage of polytheism, such as the

ancient Mexicans, Polynesians, or Finns.

Proto-chaldeans dualism manifests

itself

Amongst the not so much in

the sphere of natural phenomena as on the field of man's daily struggle against evil spirits, especially the spirits

of disease

;

but the death of Tammuz, the descent of

Istar into hell in search of her lost lover, the incidents of

her quarrel with her

sister

AUat, queen of the subter-

ranean world, and, on the other

side,

the legend of the

Deluge, of the fight of the moon-god with the seven evil spirits, to say itself,

nothing of the story of the creation

prove clearly enough that natural dualism was not

entirely absent from the Assyrio-chaldean mythology.

We may remark

that the seven evil spirits at the head

of the infernal armies represent the seven principal winds,

and that the great gods, invoked are

unquestionably planetary

personifications

of

natural

to

keep them in check,

deities,

phenomena

or at of

any

rate

some kind.


IV.

159

DITALISM.

According to Prof. Sayce, the texts show traces of a period

when

good and

the superhuman beings were at once

all

mixed

this

must have been by gradual

It

evil.

came

that the Chaldeans

character,

the dispensers of

all

assumed the exclusive

two phases of

make the

superior gods

and

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;the

to

there were originally three

gods of the elements, the gods of

The

the dead, and the solar gods.

sun below the earth, that

was

it,

such as Sib and

first, ;

the second, with

were gradually assimilated is

to say, the

and thus the whole religion Pierrot expresses

spirits

role of the agents of evil.^

Nut, appear half-effaced in the worship Osiris at their head,

lower

benefits, while the

Amongst the Egyptians kinds of deities

steps

to separate the

a " solar

to the

sun after sunset;

Egypt became, as M. drama "^ that is to say, it of

;

entirely concentrated ia the struggle of light against

darkness, and,

by

The

extension, of life against death.

luminous gods embark in full strength in the solar boat, " the good boat of thousands of years." They are joined

by the souls of the just, thus assimilated to One Horus places himself at the helm, another

there

Osiris.

at the

prow, with couched spear ; the oars are grasped by the Akhimu Urdu, " who cease not to exist," and the

Akhimu

Soku,

"who

are never destroyed."

The crew,

however, quit the luminous fields of heaven to penetrate the

darksome region

of the

world below.

At

the sixth hour of the night begins the daily fight in

which the serpent Apap, with

all his

army

strives to arrest the course of the boat. 1 '^

Sayce, Hihbert Lectures for 1887,

p.

Paul Pierret, Le Pantheon Agyptien,

of monsters,

But

the gods

205. Paris, 1881j p. xv.


160

DUALISM.

IV.

of light

overcome

slain."

And

Ea

all obstacles.

''Apap

triumphs.

The same

on the horizon of grateful Egypt.^

lustre,

is

therefore the sun rises again, with renewed

dualism re-appears, in a quasi-historical form, in the

myth its

of Osiris as told

anthropomorphic

by Herodotus, and

traits still further

as read, with

emphasized, on

the inscriptions of the temple of Edfu.^

You

are aware of the importance

ship of the Syro-phoenicians,

assumed in the wor-

by the

scenic representa-

tions

which reproduced the passion of a deity

slain

and

lated

In Phrygia,

resuscitated.

by the jealousy

of Cybele,

it

was

alternately

Attis, muti-

and then transformed

who wakes from beginning of the spring. At

into the pine with evergreen foliage,

his winter slumber at the

Byblos,

it

was Adonis,

slain

by the enamoured by the dates at which the

to life

by a wild boar and

we

feast of his death

and resur-

Astarte.

rection were respectively celebrated,

those

Syrian populations

recalled

inay judge

If

who

Adonis (amongst

suffer

most from the

parching sun) represents the spring sky, slain by the

sun when the heaven grows scorching, and born again at the approach of

autumn, when pregnant nature re -finds

her lost lover.^ ''

G. Maspero, Histoire Ancienne des peuples de V Orient, Paris,

1886, pp. 280 sqq. ^ H. Brugsch, Die Sage von der gefliigelten Sonnenscheibe, in the Ahhandlungen der Koniglichen GeselUchaft der Wissenschaften zu

Gottingen (vol. xiv.).

Historisch Philologisclie

Olasse,

Gottingeii,

1869, pp. 173â&#x20AC;&#x201D;236. ^

C. P. Tiele, Histoire comparSe des anciennes religions de VEgypte et

despeuples Semitiques, book pp.

291â&#x20AC;&#x201D;298.

iii.

chap. iv.

La

religion de Gebal

ou Byblos,


IV.

the Greeks, the " mj'^steries " clearly betray

Amongst

the influence of Oriental religions

;

but under the smiling

Aryan genius had conceived

climate of Hellas the

view

161

DUALISM.

of the universe too serene

and harmonious

with the tragic emotions of nature-worship.

a

to fall in It chose

rather to relegate the fight with the chaotic forces of

nature to the origin of things.

once for

dark dungeons, and, but for the

all in their

menacing predictions nothing

when

Prometheus, there would be

of a

left to trouble

the Olympian quiet of Zeus.

the Greek religion had overstepped

more sombre

finally took a

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

meant

spirit

in the case of Socrates

its frontiers, it

and under the influence

Sdifxcov,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;gradually became

a

synonym

for

power, the demon, whose name Christianity took,

evil

new

in this

tone,

But

which had once simply sometimes even the good genius of man, as

of theories of emanation the

an

The Titans were enchained

signification,

and applied

whole body

it

to the

is

easy to see

of pagan divinities.

Amongst the Germans,

also,

it

dualism became accentuated as religion developed. giants of the frost, the wolf Fenris, the serpent

gnawing the spirits

;

roots of the cosmic tree,

is

as

Now

were always

evil

head to lead

it

to the attack of the

Hel and Loki were

originally conceived

its

Prof. Tiele points out that

less antipathetic traits.

we

Mdhugr

not complete until Hel and Loki have placed

themselves at

with

The

but the organization of the army of darkness and

the frimas

^sir.

how

ascend towards a remoter antiquity, Hel,

the

personification of twilight, occupies an ever loftier position,

though she sank

enchains the dead and

at last into

terrifies

M

the

the living.

goddess that

As

to Loki,


162

DUALISM.

IV.

the god of

he was at

fire,

panion of Odin

;

the brother and com-

first

nay, he rendered signal services to the

gods in their fight with the giants; but subsequently

he was looked upon as the father

and

he who

is

it

who

adornments,

of the evil powers,

the goddess of earth of her

strips

robs Thor of his fertilizing hammer,

and causes the death of Balder, the beneficent sun.^

With

the Hindus, dualism takes a yet more important

place both in worship and ia mythology.

They

are never

weary of telling how the Maruts, Indra, Agni, and Yishnu,

waged war with the serpent AM Yritra (the enveloper), Cushna (the (the

slayer)

alternately

parcher),

to deliver the celestial

named

and Dasa

cows or spouses,

that is to say, the waters held captive in the caverns of the clouds. sun,

whose

ElseAvhere

it is

the

fire,

the dawn, or the

fate is the stake of the battle.

The

word which

of the asuras, or rather of the

history

serves to

designate these personified evil infiuences, bears striking

evidence to the progress,

Hindu

tion of

dualism, as

you will, the systematizamythology developed. At first

or, if

the term asura (being or spirit)

good and

to

Asura par

evil beings.

In

excellence in the

is

fact,

applied indifferently

Yaruna himself is the

On

Yedas.

the other hand,

the devas of the Yedic songs sometimes play the part of

demons in retaining the selves.^

It is in the

light or the water for them-

brahmanas and the puranas, com-

positions of a later date, that the dualism attains its 1

C. P. Tiele, Outlines of the History of Religions, § 1 18, pp. 194, 195.

^

Abel Bergaigne, Religion Vediqwe d'aprh

Veda, three

vols., Paris,

of tlie BiUiothhque de

1878—1883,

I' Scale

vol.

iii.

les

hyrmies du Rig-

pp. 78, 79.

des hautes etudes, Paris.

Vol. xxxvi.


height, and

ih.e

163

DUALISM.

IV.

devas are represented on the one

and the asuras on the

side,

other, as fighting for the possession

of the amrita, the heavenly water which assures fertility to the earth

and immortality to living beings.^

Whether Zoroastrianism be

attributed

to a natural

evolution of the old Indo-Iranian religion, or to a violent reaction against the nature-worship of which earliest traces ia the

there too

we find

Yedas,

it is

certain in

we

a dualism which must have strengthened

greatly after the separation of the two peoples.

we may

find the

any case that

safely say that

completely in any

known

Indeed,

has not been carried out more

it

religion.

Opposed

to

Ormuzd,

and the superhuman beings grouped around him to maintain all that is good in the world, we find Ahriman and

work of the Omniscient Lord, whether by destroying what he makes, or by producing, in their turn, counter creations. Here the opposition is complete. Not only have we two his daevas,

whose object

absolutely to thwart the

is

hierarchies, exactly corresponding to each other, but the all their respective acts

correspondence extends to all

;

and

the details of nature are divided between the two

powers.

Nothing has a mixed,

neutral,

or equivocal

character. Everything that does not come from Ormuzd proceeds from Ahriman. If a being or a phenomenon has

no actual counterpart in the antagonistic forces of nature, the blank ^

is filled

up by a

process of abstraction.

This

Moor, in his Hindu Pantheon, reproduces a picture of an episode

introduced into the Mahabharata, representing the churning of the ocean, for the recovery of the beverage of immortality, by means of the

mountain Mandara. The serpent Vasuki girds the mountain as a cord, and one end is pulled by the devas and the other by the asuras. Edward Moor, The Hindu Pantheon, London, 1810, p. 182 and plate 49.

m2


164

DUALISM.

IV.

explains the singular conglomeration of abstract genii deities of nature whicli characterizes the religious

and

system of the Persians.^

Even the Jewish

religion attests, in the course of its

development, the growing accentuation of dualism.

In

no superhuman being was recognized in Beyond the national deity and opposition to Yahveh. early times,

the gods of foreign peoples,

we

find little

more than

subordinate to the supreme God, such as angels,

spirits

seraphim, cherubim, and those bene-elohim, or sons of

whom

God,

the book of Job represents as coming from

Even

time to time to pay their court to the Eternal.

Satan was but a kind of public minister, an inspector, or

who had no power

rather agent provocateur^

tempt save by permission at a late period that

we

to

torment or

It is only quite

of his master.

find the revolted angels organizing

themselves into an army of darkness under the guidance of Satan, to struggle against the soldiery of heaven under

Yahveh phenomenon, when

and we may even ask whether

the direction of

;

this

it

does appear,

is

not due to the

We see Yahveh surAhura Mazda with his

influence of Iranian demonology.

rounded by six archangels,

Amesha Qpentas

;

like

and, as in Iranian mythology, the intro-

duction of evil and death into the world becomes the work of the rebel spirits.

You

will observe that

pronounced as

its

though dualism becomes more

organization

is

perfected, yet

it

never

goes the length of setting the powers of good and the ^

part I

Compare James Darmesteter, Ormazd ii.

'ecole

chap.

vi.

pp. 242

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;314.

des liauies etudes, Paris.

et

Ahriman, Paris, 1877, BiUiothhqm de

Vol. xxix. of the


powers of less

165

DUALISM.

IV.

on a footing of absolute equality,

evil

of admittiag tlie possibility of tbe final

Even

of evil.

Mazda

Abriman and

will be destroyed,

kingdom

and

evil will

ordeT^and

evil spirits

tbe just will bebold tbe defini-

of tbe Omniscient Lord, in

wbicb disease

be banisbed for ever from nature. Tbis Confidence in tbe permanence, tbe

Conception of

idea of law.

wbUe

Abura

will survive bim.

Tbree tbousand years after Zoroaster, tbe tive

triumph

in tbe religion of tbe Persians,

anterior to

is

still

^'^^urn,

or tbe triumpb of tbe forces tbat

h.ave assured tbe actual

development of tbe

world, finally took tbe sbape of tbe conception of law, tbat

is to say,

human

of a natural order sustained

by tbe

super-

powers.

Conceive,

if

you

can, tbe mental state of infantine

peoples beginning to refiect on tbe great phenomena of nature.

For them, everything

the outside,

mere

day once gone the

summer

They

habit.

will re-appear

is

chance, caprice,

or,

at

are never sure tbat the

on the morrow, or that

will return after the winter.

If the sun

if tbe moon remonth by month, if tbe rain puts an end to the drought, if the wind is appeased, but it is these phenomena themselves who will it so

returns in tbe spring from his retreat,

assumes her

lost form,

;

who shall say whether mind? The Abipones, who from the constellation it

they will always

be of the same

believe that their race sprang

of the Pleiades, suppose tbat

when

descends below the horizon, at the approach of summer,

their grandfather is sick

;

and they celebrate

bis re-ap-


166

IV.

DUALISM.

pearance in autumn with great demonstrations of joy.^

Here we brated by

find

th.e

explanation of the festivals cele-

the ancient peoples in connection with

all

the re -birth of the sun at the winter solstice,

still

perpetuated in the popular traditions of Christmas in

Europe.

But

are

we

sure that the being

intervals is always the

same

?

who

re-appears at

The Bechuanas of Southern

Africa do not say that the sun

sets,

but that he

The French term of Noel takes us back solis invicti of Pagan antiquity to an

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

dies.^

to the dies natalis

epoch, that

is,

in

which men must have believed that the sun was re-born each year. And to this day we speak of "new moons" in witness of the times

grew

old

and

died.^

that the sun kills the

have got beyond chases the

but she

is

when

it

was supposed that moons

Certain tribes of Australia declare

moon every month.

The Bassutos

this stage, for they say that the

moon every month and clever

enough

sun

by little him when she is

eats her, little

to escape

reduced to a mere thread, and so gradually recovers her former shape.*

Certain favoured peoples however,

by

comparing repeated observations, gradually discovered 1

Tol.

Martinus Dobrizlioffer, Hidoria de Ahiponihus, Vienna, 1784, ii.

p. 77.

2

Max

^

In the Walloon provinces of Belgium they

Miiller,

that the stars are

Chips from a German Workshop,

made out

vol.

still

ii.

p. 83.

teU the children

of bits of the old moons.

Questionnaire

de Folldore wallon, Lifege, 1890, p. 87. *

Albert Eeville, Religions des peuples non-civilises, vol. ii. p, 151.

and vol

i.

p. 143,


IV.

167

DUALISM.

that the days and the seasons succeed each other at reguthat the sun, moon,

lar intervals;

periodically at the

same points

comes to put an end replaces the clouds.

They

of the horizon,

to the drought,

and inva-

and the blue sky

This constancy at

said that the

thus must have their

drawn

stars re-appear

same course ; that the storm always

riably traverse the

mankind.

and

own

last re-assured

phenomena which acted

superior reasons for doing

so,

either from an unalterable afEection for earthly

creatures, or

from the necessities

Thus men were led by an

of their

act of faith, in

own

existence.

which religion

science, to regard the course of celestial

anticipated

phenomena as a path traced out once for all. Then was born in the human spirit the first idea of a natural order, in which the past is a guarantee of the future. It is this " immutable way " which the Aryans of Indip called Eita ^ the Persians, Asha ^ the Chinese, Tao or ;

Tien 1

;

^

Max

;

the Egyptians, the Miiller,

Ma

or Maat.*

Hiblert Lectures for 1878,

p. 237.

James Darmesteter, Ormazd et Ahrhnan, parti, chap. i. §§ 11 17, 18. M. Darmesteter points out that the Persian Asha, like the Hindu Eita, bears the two-fold signification of the cosmic order and the liturgical order, whence he concludes that the idea is anterior Prof. Max Miiller, mounting to the separation of the Indo-Iranians. still higher, attempts to prove that it had its origin before the forma^

pp. 13

tion of the Indo-Europeau languages. s

Albert Reville,

137, 138.

La

ReJigion chinoise, Paris, 1889, pp. 102, 120,

Ch. de Harlez, Les Religions de la Chine, Leipzig, 1891,

p. 47. * Le PageRenouf,ffi6&er<Z«ciM?'esfor 1879,pp.ll9sqq. P. Pierret, PantMon egyxMen, p. 20. Eugfene Gr^baut, Hymne a Ammon-Ra,

Paris, 1873, p. xix., in the BiUiotlieque de I'ecole des hautes etudes.


168 u

Tj

DUALISM.

IV.

f

We

^v.

belief in ft this natural order.

was

may

idea

easily

imagine -what new ligM

—concrete and quasi-material„

—must ,

at once

it

at,

,

Certainly

spectacle of the universe.

as

„ have thrown upon tne ,

.

it

alone

made the

The explanation of intervention of superhuman

development of science possible.

phenomena by the

capricious

beings gives so easy a solution, that

it

discourages

all

attempts to inquire into the natural causes of events, as we see clearly enough from the uncivilized peoples of our

own

time.

But when,

instead of having to deal

with fantastic and arbitrary beings,

man

believes

in

superhuman agencies who govern the world according no longer hesitate to search for these laws by a rational study of the facts, and he will even be stimulated in such a course by the thought that

to laws, he will

he will thus gain a new means of bringing the divine

wisdom and power into relief. The pursuit will become a conscious act of religion.

of science

Doubtless the natural order, as conceived at that epoch, only applies to the most regular phenomena, and, on the other hand, includes a

we

number

of

supposed facts which

regard as absurd and impossible.

still

admitted that this order

certain limits,

by

is

it is

be violated, within

the caprice or passion from which the

gods are not yet entirely

ment

may

Moreover,

free.

But

this arbitrary ele-

more and more regarded as exceptional and

anomalous

;

and the very

fact of its being set in opposi-

tion to the normal course of afiairs shows the existence

of a well-established belief in that order

itself,

and at

the same time marks the beginning of a struggle in the

human mind, which

will not

end until the supernatural,


169

DUALISM.

IV.

or rather the anti-natural (wMch.

must not be confounded

with the supra-sensible), has been banished from the reason and the conscience.

Nevertheless

Widenin

of the religious

we must

not conclude that

the elasticity of the relieious sentiment has

horizon.

.

been weakened by of the arbitrary element.

this gradual suppression

It

is,

indeed, evident at a

glance that the conception of a natiiral order must result in restraining within ever narrower limits the indepen-

dence of the personified phenomena, and even of the " Surya," says a Yedic hymn, gods which rule them. " does not transgress the places indicated ;"^ and Heraclitus formulates the

same thought with respect to Helios.

But we must note that this very order itself is regarded as the work of personal agents, to whom a veneration intensified by the increased grandeur of their functions is

In a word, the problem

straightway directed.

Author

of things does but shift its ground.

Who has

We

esta-

^

^

OTder of nature ?

have seen that the Incas worshipped

^^^ ^^^' 'whom they regarded as their father

and

first legislator

Inca Tupanqui,

who

conquest, once said

he would become

would

the same

He

yet

;

are told that the

"If [the sun] was a living thing,

:

tired as

we do

;

and

if

he was

free,

heaven which he never

round, or like the dart it

Inca Huyana Capac

wishes."

is

said to

which goes where

And

a

little later,

have remarked

high-priest at a great festival of the sun at Cuzco: 1

he

a tethered beast that always makes

is like

and not where

we

lived shortly before the Spanish

visit other parts of the

reaches.

sent,

of the

Rig-Veda,

iii.

30. 12.

it is

the

to the

"Our


170

DITALISM.

IV.

father the

Sun must have another Lord more powerful who orders him to make this journey day

than himself,

by

day, without resting."

One may

^

well doubt whether these words have not

been put into the mouths of the Incas in order to make them precursors of Christianity, but the naive reasoning

them re-appears amongst many other peoples. " Who," asks the Zend-Avesta, " was from the beginning

attributed to

the father of the pure world

Who has made a path Who makes the moon to

?

sun and for the stars ? increase and to decrease ?"2 for the

The by

This question has been answered in divers ways. simplest its

is to

own

say that each celestial body

The Polynesians

deity.

directed

is

declare that the sun

used to follow a capricious course, but the sun-god Maui caught him in a kind of lassoo which compelled him thenceforth, in spite of his struggles and cries, to remain

above the horizon long enough to allow his occupations.

Not

^

so

many

man

to pursue

centuries ago, in Europe

a genius was placed within each planet to direct

itself,

through space as a kind of

pilot.

As

it

soon, however, as

the regular phenomena which in their entirety constitute the cosmic order have been brought into relations one

with another, that cosmic order

itself will

come

to

be

regarded either as the movement proper to the personi^

Garcilasso de la Vega, Commentarios Reales

1609, book

(first part),

Lisbon,

and book ix. chap. x. Translated byClements E. Markbam, London, 1839 "Hakluyt Society," pp. 354, viii.

chap,

viii.,

:

446.

Max

^

See

3

Melusine, vol.

Miiller, Science i.

of Religion, London, 1873,

(1878), p. 13.

p.

240.


171

DUALISM,

IV.

fled firmament, "wliich serves as their theatre, or as the

god who governs the sum

result of an impulse due to the of the celestial

phenomena. The

first

two notions

of these

prevailed in the ancient religion of the Chinese, in which

the majestic succession of the cosmic phenomena

garded as the immediate manifestation of the

The second

activity.

re-

celestial

prevailed in the Semitic religions,

particularly in that of the Israelites, in of Genesis

is

makes the Eternal

say, "

which the book

Let there be lights

in the expanse of heaven to part the day from the night,

and to serve as signs

of

Amongst

it

the Chaldeans,

days, is

Bel

seasons and years."

who

fixes the stars,

and establishes the places of the planets and the sun, "that they might know their bonds, that they might not

err,

Among to

that they might not go astray in any way." ^

the Egyptians,

it is

Ptah-Ptanen who prescribes

heaven and earth the path which they transgress

With

the Persians,

it is

not.^

Ahura Mazda who

of course

takes this part.

The two conceptions the Vedas, where

we

are in a certain

way

shaken laws rest on Varuna as upon a rock times this same god

is

;

and some-

represented as the author, the

guardian, and the guide of the Kita

down

united in

are sometimes told that the un-

:

" Yaruna has laid

the course of the sun, he has thrown out the im-

petuous torrents of the rivers, and he has hollowed the

1

Fifth tablet of the creation story.

Apud

Sayce, Hibbert Lectures

for 1887, p. 389. 2

Le Page Renouf, Hibbert Lectures

for 1879, p. 223.


1

72

IV.

DUALISM.

great courses in which flow in seemly order the loosened flood of the days."^

Finally, the natural order

may be

personifled under the

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;the

Gathu, the " Broad

features of an abstract deity

Way," which deities of the

figures

amongst the Hindus as one of the

morning; the Eita

itself ;

the

Asha Yahista,

the genius of purity, or rather of regularity, amongst the Persians

;

the goddess Ma, the Egyptian personification

of truth, that

is

to say, conformity to the reality

per-

;

haps the Moira of the Greeks, to say nothing of E'omos, their personification of law,

and the Erynnyes, those

daughters of Zeus and of justice, the sun to exceed his

orbit,

who

not only forbid

but likewise refuse to allow

the horse of Achilles to speak the language of men.^

These abstract personalities

may

maintain themselves

against the gods in cases where the latter retain, from their mythological past, a capricious or arbitrary character.

In such

cases, the ancient deities will either

gradually relegated to the background

by

this

new

be

con-

ception of the superhuman power, or else their wills will

be gradually assimilated to the irrevocable decrees

new power, which the universe.

by vulgar

is

summoned

of the

to rule the destinies of

In China, Taoism, degraded as

it

superstitions, originally defined the

having existed even before the deity,^ whereas the

now

is

Tao as oflicial

religion of the empire sees in the order of nature the will

heaven

of

itself.

In Egypt, we learn from the texts that

1

Rig-Veda,

^

Ch. de Harlez, Les Religions de la Ghine, Leipzig, pp. 174

vii.

87.

1.

2

Eiad, xix. 418. sq.


Ma is

]73

DUALISM.

IV.

sometimes called Lady of the Heaven and Euler of

the World,

who "knows no

lord or master;"^ whilst

other passages, perhaps more faithful to the prevailing conception, declare of Osiris:

"He

maintains order in

the universe and makes the son succeed the father."

we have

"Whilst the Brahmans, as

just seen, attribute

the creation of the Eita to Yaruna, Buddhism recognizes

nothing in the universe but the action of the Karma, the residue of acts, that

is

and

to say, the action of effects

In the Buddhist writings, Qakra, the chief of

causes.

who

the thirty-three gods

inhabited the Yedic Olympus,

declares his inability to act in opposition to the conse-

quences of the Karma.2

superior even to Zeus

is

with the Greeks, Moira

So, too,

but the opposition pales in

;

proportion as the will of the lord of

Olympus comes

more constant harmony with the requirements versal order, until the time

can exclaim conduct 1

all

:

"

Oh

Zeus

!

is

into

of uni-

when Cleanthes

reached

in conformity to law dost thou

things."^

Le Page Eenouf, Hibhert

Lectures for 1879,

p.

122.

M. Eugene

Grebaut notes, rightly enough, that this conception of the Truth

supreme law of the universe

is

when once

it

Egypt.

Indeed,

theodicy and of religion

and superior

as a

monotheism in becomes the foundation of the whole

anterior

itself, it

to

places the- relations of the faithful to

the superhuman world on bases independent of the questions of pantheism, dualism, and creation properly so called.

Ra, Paris, 1875,

Systems of the World, 1890,

^

S. Beal, in Religious

3

Stobseus, Physica, bk,

wards,

Hymne a Amman

p. xix.

M. Jules Girard

i.

c. ii.

§ 12.

p. 84.

From Homeric make

points out a tendency to

times downthe gods, in

virtue of their very being, the representatives of stability, endurance,

fixed principles, Girard,

obvious or hidden laws of the universe.

Le sentiment

religicux en Greae

d'Homere a

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Jules

Escliyle,

second


174

DUALISM.

IV.

We are now in a position to judge whether this assimi-

—the reign —

lation of the cosmic to the divine order

in the whole series of observable facts

the contrary,

it

law

implies, as certain

superficial thinkers declare, the first step

On

of

towards atheism.

surely leads to the recognition of the

The Yedic poet well " The sun and the moon

rational principle in the universe.

understood this

move

O

when he

cried:

we may believe, same sense that we must

in regular succession in order that

Indra

!

^

"

Is

it

not in the

take the words of the Psalmist, " It

God"?

glory of

is

"The heavens

because of law that

in the gods," says Euripides;^

further

still

What

to require

have we here for those who

believe

by Maat."^

still

continue

some violation of the natural laws as a proof

of the omnipotence and even the existence of

much more gress

we

and the Egyptians went

in declaring that "the gods live

lessons

declare the

truly

was Kant on the

God

How

!

line of religious pro-

—nay, the stream our ancient Indo-European — when he urged us seek that proof the in

of

tradition

in

to

spectacle of the heavens

and in the voice

of conscience,

rather than in the miracles of Joshua stopping the sun, or Jesus raising the dead

The conception

!

of universal order thus formulated,

however, implies yet another step of progress,

viz.

the

assimilation of the divine order not only to the cosmic

but also to the moral order. edition, Paris, 1879, p. 52. /BacriXev's dvartav re 1

Rig-Veda, vo/iO)

^

i.

Pindar had already sung, No/ios o

Kal ddavdroyv, cited

102,

by Plato, Gorgias,

2.

yap Tovs Oiovs fjyovfuOa,

Le Page Eenouf, Op.

cit. p.

—Hecuha, 800,

120.

iravToiv

§ 87.


IV.

(ii.)

The Struggle for Good.

Sow

Immorality of the myths,

175

DTJALISM.

Can peoples prof essing relatively ad-

yanced views as to the nature and functions

of the deity

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;the

Hindoos and Greeks, for example

accept accounts of their gods as absurd and gross as

the stories of their respective mythologies are

moreover,

how

And,

?

could peoples whose morals were so rela-

Germans attribute vices and gods at which they would have The views developed in the pre-

tively pure as those of the

even crimes to their blushed themselves?

ceding Lectures have already put us in a position to give a partial answer to the question.

Such

facts as the

by the sun, the removal of by the wind, the apparent union of the heaven with the atmosphere, the earth, the clouds, or the dawn have no immoral character in themselves, even when destruction of the twilight

the clouds

respectively

called

parricide,

theft,

or

adultery;

but

they quite change their character when the beings to

whom

they are attributed are no longer looked upon as

heavenly bodies and as natural objects (whether personified or not), but are regarded as heroes, of a

human

or a quasi-human physiognomy, living in a society similar to that of

man.

This explanation presented ancients.

Thus

itself to

the minds of the

in the sixth century before our era,

Theagenes of Ehegium taught that the wars of the gods signified the conflict of the elements.

that if Orithyia was carried

away by

Socrates explained

Boreas,

it

simply

meant that she had been hurled from the rocks by the north wind. And, in like manner, a Hindu common-


176

IV.

DUALISM.

Kumarila, explains the scandalous chronicle of the Vedic gods as follows " It is fabled that Prajapati, the

tafor,

:

of Creation, did violence to his daughter.

Lord does

it

mean ?

when

of Creation,

His daughter Ushas said that he

it is

means

Lord

Prajapati, the

of the sun

at the

her, this only-

sun runs after the dawn, the called the daughter of the

same time

sun, because she rises

And

the dawn.

was in love with

that, at sunrise, the

dawn being

is

But what is a name

when he

approaches.

In the same

was the seducer of Ahalya, this does not imply that the god Indra committed such a crime but Indra means the sun, and Ahalya .... the manner,

if it is

said that Indra

;

night

;

and, as the night

is

seduced and ruined by the

sun of the morning, therefore

mour

is

Indra called the

.para-

of Ahalya."^

]S"umbers of myths, however, and especially mythic episodes, do not lend themselves so easily to this treat-

ment

as simple metaphors.

When

interpretations from

nature have done what they can towards explaining

mythology,

we

still

have a residuum which represents

the free play of popular fancy.

Why has

imagination

here, too, allowed itself so free a course in directions

which reason and morals, have prohibited? this

as

we understand them, would

The anthropological

school explains

anomaly by throwing back the formation of the myths

an epoch at which their authors were

to

intellectual

and moral level

of the savages

still

at the

of

to-daj''.

Mr. Andrew Lang has contributed much to the illustration of this theory by comparing the classical mythologies 1

See

Max

1859, pp. 529

Miiller, sq.

History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature, London,


177

DUALISM.

IV.

with, the traditions of uncivilized peoples in both hemi-

"We cannot

spheres.^

insist too often

the god of the savage

Why

sorcerer.

is

on the point that

simply an idealized chief or

should he not comport himself as the

"worshipper supposes a chief or sorcerer

increased

would do

faculties

?

But

endowed with if

this

theory

accounts for the absurdity and the crudity which

make

the more cultivated nations blush for their mythology, it

does not explain

why

the authors of the myths have

ascribed acts to their deities which they themselves would

regard as blameworthy or degrading. explanation

that at

is,

first

The only

possible

morals had no influence

whatever on the conception formed of the gods.

and

Ethics

religion were absolutely independent of each other.

Original inde-

morak*aiid

I ^^^ iiot

now

to discuss ethical origins.

Whatever theory we

profess in this matter,

one fact is certain, namely, that even amongst

religion,

the most primitive peoples the right of the strongest

is

by certain obligations that custom has consecrated, and the violation of which at any rate involves pubKo disfavour, and arouses in the mind of the victim limited

a sense of injustice.

Indeed, were this not

which possibly parental authority might tain the social

ties.

No

their definitions of good distinction itself,

doubt peoples

and

evil,

suffice to

but they

all

main-

much

differ

in

admit the

and declare that we must do good and

evil.

You

will observe that this has nothing to do with the

belief in 1

no society

could exist beyond the limits of the family, in

at all

shun

so,

superhuman beings, whose support,

See, especially, his Myth, Ritual

N

if

not the

and Religion, London, 1887, 2

vols.


178

DUALISM.

IV.

result of pure caprice, is proportioned to the generosity

with which they are treated or the

skill

with which they

are served.

Even groups which have already reached the

first

stage

of polytheism, such as the ancient Mexicans, the Poly-

show no

nesians, or the Shintoists of Japan,

of a connection between religion

trace as yet

We must

and morals.

not be misled by the prayers in which the worshipper im-

and prays, often in very exalted

plores pardon for his sins,

taken from him. " From a distance," says a Japanese prayer, " I reverently worship

terms, that the stain

with awe before

may be

Ameno

Mi-hashira and Kunino Mi-

hashira (the god and goddess of wind), .... I say with

me by

awe. Deign to bless faults which, heard

correcting

the unwilling

and seen by you, I have committed." ^

Yet the very author who

translates this prayer adds that

Shintoism does not bear so

much

as a trace of

an

ethical

code.

In the ancient Chaldean

seems

civilization it hardly

that men's moral conduct influenced their relations with

the gods in any way, and yet their religious literature contains

hymns which M. Lenormant rightly "

penitential psalms.

Bel or great

Istar,

!

.

.

" .

my

Oh

Lord," cries the worshipper of

sins are

The

describes as

many,

my

transgressions are

sin that I sinned I

transgression I committed I

knew

knew

not.

.

The The

not. .

.

Lord in the wrath of his heart has regarded me

;

God

in

the fierceness of his heart has revealed himself to me. .

.

1

.

Isabella

Lord, destroy not thy servant

!

When

Bird, Sliinioism, in Religious Systems of the

London, 1890, pp. 93, 98.

cast

World,


IV.

179

DUALISM.

The

into the water of the ocean, take his hand.

have sinned, turn have committed,

to a blessing.

may the wind

The

transgressions I

carry away.

look below the surface,

we

Strip off

But

manifold wickednesses as a garment."^

we

sins I

my

as soon as

see that these despairing

prey to the agonies of remorse,

cries of a conscience a

refer to faults committed, not against

men, but against

the gods, by ritual omissions or legal impurities some-

times contracted

by the worshipper even without

his

knowledge. First entry of ^s^ocfal

rek-째

tions.

with,

it

Nevertheless, religion must have exercised

^ favourable influence on the consolidation

from the

of social relations

first.

To begin

developed the spirit of subordination, prevented

the scattering of the tribe, and formed a link between successive generations

;

and in the next

place, it

favoured

the sacrifice of a direct and immediate satisfaction to a greater but more distant and indirect good. The

The

oath.

transition

from the purely interested

intervention of the superhuman beings in the affairs of

men may

to the exercise of their

perhaps be found

In general, the

respected. to the lies

which

moral or judicial functions,

in their anxiety to

make

the oath

spirits are indifferent

enough

their worshippers tell one another

;

but

the latter, in order to inspire confidence in their promises,

often have occasion to close the possibility of

breaking their word with impunity against themselves.

be secured by giving a pledge, or more simply by calling upon the gods, and especially the most This object

may

powerful or the most dreaded of them, as witnesses to 1

Sayce, Hihlert Lectures for 1887, pp. 350, 351.

n2


180

IV.

the promise

;

DUALISM.

so that if either of the parties breaks his

engagement, the divinity in question personally affected, and

Amongst the Greeks,

may

may

feel

himself

therefore take vengeance.^

the importance of the oath varied

The most solemn were those made in the name of the Eumenides or of Zeus Horkios. Every oath implies a promise made to the deity, and we know with what rigour Yahveh himself

with that

of the

deities invoked.^

exacted the accomplishment of vows, however imprudent, as, for instance,

that of Jephtha.

Now, when the gods

have thus been made the champions of truth on solemn occasions, an easy transition leads to their being supposed to love the truth for its

valence on The

own

sake,

and to desire

its

pre-

all occasions.

ordeal.

Another institution in which the deity

began to assume the character of a justiciary power

is

found in the "Judgments of God" in which the super-

human

beings sometimes punished the culprit and some-

times simply helped in his detection.

Every one knows of the ordeals of the Middle Ages which the accused had to submit to the test of fire

Some

water.

common

of these

in or

customs apparently go back to the

era of the Indo-European races,

since traces

them are found in the code of Manu, whereas it amongst the Germans that we probably find the

of is

1 The bare fact of lieing in the presence of a deity in itself shows want of respect. Mrs. Murray Aiusley tells us that in certain parts of India the merchants refuse to take up their positions under a pipal tree, because, if they did, they could not ask more than the right price Revue des traditions populaires, Jan. 1889, p. 19. for their wares.

^

vol,

A. Maury, Religion de la Grhce antique, 3 ii.

p.

167.

vols,

Paris,

1857,


IV.

earliest explanation of

their efficacy

181

DUALISM.

For in ancient Germany

them.

attributed, not to the intervention of

is

a god from outside, but to the inherent sentiments of .

the personified element. sink in the water, fire,

own

of its

it

Thus,

if

was because

it

the culprit could not rejected

him

;

and the

accord, spared the innocent victim

who

and threw himself into the flames or walked upon burning torches. It is very significant that analotrusted

it,

gous customs are found wherever some kind of justice is beginning to germinate

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

for instance,

social

amongst

the Negroes, the Malagassy, the Polynesians, the Eedskins,

and

Under the

others.

kinglets of pagan Africa, the

ordeal generally consists in drinking a poisonous draught

and

here, with the complicity of the sorcerer charged

with the preparation

of the drink, it often constitutes the

whole machinery

government.

M. Albert

of

K^ville represents the ordeal as a proof

that the savage thinks the spirits of justice and truth superior to those of evil and error

asking whether this

is

;

^

but I cannot help

not forcing moral dualism pre-

maturely to the front ere the corresponding stage of

development has been reached, and I

religious

tempted sight

to

and

regard

it

am

as simply a tribute to the keener

intellect of the

superhuman

supposed to be more capable than the authors of certain crimes.

beings,

man

To whom,

who

are

of discovering

indeed, can the

savage turn for help in such investigations better than to the

powers supposed to be acquainted with the past

and the future

Boma, in East ^

?

Lieutenant Becker once saw an idol at Africa, with several heads.

Religions des peuples non-civilises, vol,

i.'p.

When 103.

he


182

IV.

DUALISM.

asked the meaning of this polycephaly, he was told that

it

enabled the god the better to discover criminals.^

At any

rate,

it is

certain that the gods thus

employed

as informers or detectives naturally become the terror

of criminals,

crime

and

finally get the reputation of hating

itself.

Again,

Crimes against the gods of the commu-

qÂŁ

^jj^g

when

a

man

believes in the gods

communitv, he cannot but allow that '

their protection extends to all the

nity.

members

of the tribe, and consequently that they will insist on

the rights of his neighbour being respected as his own.

Yet more: there

much

are certain crimes

as

which

directly affect the interests, if not the very existence, of

the tribe so on.

itself,

such as treason, breach of customs, and

The repression

of

such attempts naturally con-

cerns the gods of the community, and all the

more

so

because they are regarded as the authors of the violated custom, and the organizers of the threatened society;

and as

this is actually the case

backward

even amongst populations

Andamans, and the

as the Araucans, the

Australians. finally, the time

comes when

the idea of Conception of a moral order Jaw, alreadv applied to those phenomena on the model of the cosmic which in virtue of their periodicity or per-

..."

order.

acts

manence ought

.

.

.

to recur, is extended to all

imposed by the voice of conscience which ought

Hence the bound to follow

be accomplished by men. course which

man

is

to

assimilation of the in his conduct, to

the course which the celestial bodies ought to follow in their

movements. ^

La

"Malefactors," says the Eig-Veda, vie en Afrique, vol.

ii.

p.

304.


"do not

own

follo-w the

183

DUALISM.

IV.

Even

path of the Eita."^

in our

language, such terms as "regularity," "rectitude,"

"right," and "righteousness," imply that the moral idea which they express

Amongst

sical sense.

was

at first accepted in a

ourselves, as in ancient Egypt, to

respect the prescriptions of custom or of morals

Veda,

is

is still

To abide by the

translated into conforming with the rule. principles of justice

phy-

for us, as for the poets of the Eig-

follow the right path.

to

Nowhere was

this assimilation of the

moral and the

cosmic order pushed so far as in the ancient religion of

The

China.

by

entire ritual,

upon the idea

ethics, rests

man must

fixed rules,

side

it is

and even the whole system that, since the

of

heaven moves

do the same ; and on the other

admitted that the crimes of

man

re-act almost

fatally upon the course of nature, by releasing irregular phenomena or evil spirits, who in their turn intervene In the Kia-iii, Confucius lays it down to punish man.

that

if

the people cease to follow Tao, the heaven in

turn will disturb the cosmic order centuries afterwards, in 1731,

we

;

its

and twenty-seven

^

find the

same theory

embodied in a proclamation addressed by the emperor

Yong-Tcheng tice," it

to his people after a long drought.

"Jus-

says, " originally aroused by heaven and man,

answers more swiftly than the echo.

The

droughts or disasters which trouble

the earth come

from the acts 1

Rig-Veda,

2

J.

ix.

Happel,

de I'histoire des 3

p.

De 55

;

of

La

man."

73,

all

floods

and

^

6.

Religion de I'ancien empire chinois, in the Revue

religions, vol. iv. 1881, p. 264.

Harlez, Les croyanees des premiers Chinois, Bruxelles, 1888, vol. xli. of the octavo series of Memoires of the " Koyal

Academy"

of Belgium,


184

IV.

DUALISM.

Naturally,

Superhuman

it

charged with

the gods

is

champions maintaining physical order who are likewise and opponents .. â&#x20AC;&#x17E; , of the moral entrusted with the maintenance oi moral

,.,,

order

;

and their importance increases

portion to their task.

They

special deities, particularly

are,

m pro-

however, often aided by

amongst the peoples who deify

abstract qualities and moral virtues.

These virtues some-

times act as inspirers of man, and sometimes as avengers

them

of the- offences that particularly concern

respec-

tively.

"Justice," says Hesiod, "is the virgin daughter of

and revered by the gods who hold

Zeus, honoured

Should any outrage her, slighting her by

Olympus.

crooked doings, straightway she takes her seat by Zeus, the son of Kronos, and chants of the evil mind of men, that the people

part taken

whom we

by

may be

Ma

Such, too, was the

punished."^

amongst the Egyptians

for it is she

;

see introducing the departed to the tribunal of

Osiris

and acting as assessor

image

is

at their

Her

judgment.

even represented as a weight in one scale of the

balance, the other being occupied

by the heart

of the

The Persians were impelled to deify the moral to place them in the ranks of AhuraMazda's army. We need only mention the Good Mind, the Best Purity, the Desired Kingdom, and the like.^ Amongst the Eomans, the virtues constituted a special class of deities, but they were merely hypostases of more deceased.^

qualities of

man, and

ancient deities

;

that is to say, divine attributes detached

1

Works and Days, 256â&#x20AC;&#x201D;261 (254â&#x20AC;&#x201D;259).

^

P. Pierret, Pantheon egyptien, Paris, 1881,

5

Tiele, Outlines of the

p.

64.

History of Ancient Religions,

p. 168.


Tkus, according to Preller,

for separate personification.

was attached

Fides

to

185

DUALISM,

IV.

Concordia

Jnpiter,

to

Yenus,

Pudicitia to Juno, &c.^

By an

analogous evolution,

it is

the spirits in revolt

come

agaiQst the cosmic order which

to

be represented

as striving to overturn the moral order.

Amongst the

whom

Persians, with

the conflicts of the Indo-Iranian

nature -worship were transformed into an ethical struggle,

we may

still

recognize in the two conflicting armies

the ancient champions of light and of darkness, or of the storm, which the Vedas have preserved as personifications of natural forces.^

Amongst the Jews,

in like

manner, the angels of darkness became essentially the angels of

was

Set

In Egypt, the struggle of Osiris and

evil.

originally the

material evil;

brings

myth

of

death combined with

"Set," says M. Maspero, "represented

a solar myth.

....

but material dualism everywhere

moral dualism in

its

train.

Just

as

Osiris

becomes the Good Being (TJnnofir), Set becomes the Evil Being." ^ Finally, amongst the Teutons, dualism, at first purely physical, likewise tends to take a moral

turn

when

Loki, rejected from the ranks of the gods,

has become the head of the armies of of assimilation is

evil.*

Thus a kind

established everywhere between the

forces representing light,

life,

order, truth, justice,

on

the one hand, and darkness, death, disorder, falsehood, ^

VxbWsi, Romische Mythologie, second edition, Berlin, 1865, pp. 622,

623.

Darmesteter,

Ormazd

Ahriman, passim.

2

J.

3

Revue de

«

Tiele, Outlines, &c., §§ 118, 119, pp.

I'hiistoire

et

des religions, vol. xix. (1889), p. 24.

194—198.


186

DUALISM.

IV.

and iniquity, on the

other.

The drama which has

hitherto

been confined to nature now embraces the conscience,

and man

feels

the gods'

who

,

He who

more than ever bound

to bring his aid to

are fighting for the good of the world.

fails in this

duty takes sides with the

evil

powers, and condemns himself henceforth to share their fate.

The gods withdraw from him the

protection

which alone assures the enjoyment of the universal order, or they even inflict direct punishment on him, Sometimes they themselves

proportioned to his fault.

hurl the thunderbolt at conspicuous criminals, as amongst

the Jews, Greeks, and Hindus;

more often they

act

through the medium of special agents who personify " For the (king's) sake,"

punishment.

we

read in the

code of Manu, "the Lord formerly created his

own

son,

Punishment, the protector of all creatures, (an incarnation

The Greeks

formed of Brahman's glory." ^

of) the law,

had a whole

series of beings representing the celestial

punishments; Nemesis sprung from the union

of

with Themis ; the Poinai, represented by the poets

Zeus as the

attendants of justice; Ate, dark remorse; the Erinnyes,

who pursued the culprit, and executed the decrees of Amongst the Persians and Jews, it was the Minos. spirits of evil who were charged with tormenting the criminal until the day of the final chastisement.

Meanwhile

,

The problem of unpunished

_

it

was impossible not *â&#x20AC;˘

to note

_

that vice Sometimes escaped unpunished and

CI*1II16

virtue tion addressed 1

Manu,

vii.

went unrewarded. The poignant ques-

by Job

14,

p.

to the Eternal,

218, in

Blililer's

"Wherefore do

translation,

Vol. XXV. of Tlie Sacred Boolts of the East, edited by

Oxford, 1886.

Max

Miiller.


the wicked

(Job xxi.

live, 7),

become

old, yea, are

mighty in power?"

appears again on the lips of Theognis

addressed to Zeus

"

:

How

put the sinner and the just It is

187

DUALISM.

IV.

son of Saturn,

canst thou,

man on

the same footing?"^

the ever -recurring and terrible

problem which

reduces the thinker to the alternative of denying the

omnipotence or the absolute Justice of the divinity, and

which has always been the neither I nor

my

Hesiod, " since

much

son

it is

now be

an

"

citadel of atheism.

just

evil for a

May

amongst men," cried

man

to be just, inas-

as the unjust shall secure the larger rights.

I do not hold that Zeus,

who

Yet

exults in the thunderbolt,

closing the account as yet."^

is

Attempts have been made to explain

this

anomaly by

saying, with the Chorus in -^schylus, that suffering lesson

;

or with Solon, that the children

their father; or with Confucius

the good pay for the evil

;

is

a

pay the debts of

and the Prophets, that

or, finally,

with Job, that the

decrees of Providence are inscrutable; but these answers

have never fully

satisfied either the reason

which seeks

the wherefore of things, or the conscience which revolts against the idea of throwing

upon the innocent the eon-

Thus most peoples have future life the means of repairing

sequences of the sins of others.

sought in doctrines of a

the evils and the injustices of the present.

At

The theory '^

°^]ifeaftOT death.

found

the threshold of our investigations

man

we

admitting, on the strength of his

drcams, not only the continuance

of

the

personality after death, but even its

posthumous

intervention in the affairs of the survivors.

This per-

human 1

Vv. 377 sq-

^

Works and Days, 270—273 (268—271).

.


188

DUALISM.

IV.

henceforth, conceived as

sonality,

a

sometimes

double,

pictured under traits of an animal, wanders around last

home and walks among

its

and even sharing their

their life

its

descendants, joining in repasts.

re-encases itself in another body.

Or perhaps

And, on

it

this point,

while allowing due influence to dreams, as suggesting

such transformations, I the theory of

am

not disinclined to believe that

human re-incarnation

often has

its

origin in

anthropophagy, and that the belief in metempsychosis

may be due

to the

custom of leaving human bodies

to be

consumed by animals.^

Or sometimes the soul was relegated to the tomb in company with the body, which it still frequented till and, by a natural extension, it was reduced to dust the peoples who bury their dead conceive them as wan;

dering with their fellows ia the deep caverns of the

In

subterranean world. their dead to the

like

manner, those who commit

waves suppose them

to

have gone,

the sun, to a distant land beyond the sea, those

who

like

Pinally,

cremation suppose that the dead

practise

ascend to the heights of heaven with the smoke of the funeral pyre.

Hence

insensibly arises the conception of

another world situated under the earthj on a distant island,

on the summit

ment, or even in the almost

all

of a mountain,

beyond the firma-

the mysterious abodes to which

stars,

peoples despatch their dead to continue the

life

of this world.

The word "continue" future ^

On

life is at first all

is

strictly in its place, for the

represented as a continuation, or

these points Mr. Herbert Spencer's exposition in chaps,

to XV. of his Sociology, vol.

i.,

is

as lucid as

it is

exhaustive..

xii.


IV.

189

DUALISM.

rather a copy, of the present, existence. drinking,

Eating an(J

hunting and fishing, harvesting and other

work, go on just as in this world, and so do war and love ; although, says the Araucan, " they have no more children, for they are but souls."

In the other world,

^

The Polynesians

every one retains his ancient rank.

believe that the departed are divided into the social

which they respectively belonged in their own country. The same belief prevails amongst the Kaffirs, classes to

in

Dahomey, and amongst the Indian

aborigines.

he has descended into Hades, Achilles

still,

When

apparently,

plays the part of a powerful prince amongst the dead.^

When

Eabani goes down to

kings of old

he discovers the great

hell,

wearing their crowns,^ just as Isaiah

still

(xiv. 9) represents the kings of the earth sitting

on

thrones in Sheol above the crowd of shades.

Tou

aware that the Egyptians reproduced public and private

life

all

their

are

the scenes of

in the interior paintings of the

tombs, supposing that this would secure their recurrence for the defunct in the other world. ^,

The life rta

It often

,

future conceived np'hf'PT' or

worse than

.

on the

^-j^^gg^

effaced

it

that,

while

still

modelled

.

terrestrial life, the future life is con-

ceivcd of as notably worse or better.

t e present,

dreams,

happens

doubtlcss

Some-

by an inference drawn from

bears the character of a vague, pale, half-

and miserable copy. Nothing can be more dismal

than the fate of souls in the Hebrew Sheol, the Assyrian "A corner in this world Arali, or the Greek Hades. is

better than a corner in the world of spirits," say the 1

Tyler, Primitive Culture, vol.

2

Odysseyy

xi.

490.

ii.

^

p. 76.

Sayce, Op. dt. p. 62.


190

IV.

Yorubas

DUALISM.

of "Western Africa.^

This was also the opinion

who would have

preferred to be a slave on

of Achilles,

The Finns

earth rather than king amongst the dead.

believed in the subterranean region of Tuonela, where there was a sun,

fish,

and

bears, as

the luminary was paler, the

soil

on the earth

but

;

more ungrateful, and

the water colder.^

Elsewhere, on the other hand, the future

life is

sup-

posed to satisfy the aspirations which have never been realized here below.

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;and

Man

his superiority over all other

this is

known

an indication of

beings

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;frames

mode

himself an ideal of happiness duly related to his

and his stage of education.

Whether

for

of

life

is

purely material or prevailingly moral, in either case

every one admits his inability to realize

by chance the modesty

it

that ideal

on earth

;

or if

of his aspirations or the unlooked-

for kindness of fortune should enable a

man

to do so, he

immediately feels the boundaries of his desires expand,

and

is

more keenly conscious than ever of the inadequacy

of things as they are.

Hence the

must early have impelled man for a little

restless feeling,

to look

beyond

which

this

life,

more happiness, while the day was coming

which he should look there for a represented the future

life,

little

more

justice.

in

He

then, as destined to provide

him with enjoyments and compensations for which he longed iu vain below. "For the men who pronounce these prayers," says a poet of the court of Assurbanipal,

"may

the land of the silver sky,

oil

unceasing, and the

wine of blessedness, be their food, and a good moon1

Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol.

^

R6ville, Religions des peuples non-civilises, vol.

ii.

p. 80. ii.

p.

204.


DUALISM.

191

"Place me,

Soma," said the

IV.

tide

their light."

^

Vedic poet, "where

celestial light reigns eternal,

the mighty waters abound, where

life is free,

worlds are radiant, where the desires of

my

The Greenlanders imagine

accomplished." 2

where

where the desires are

that in the-

other world there will be no night, good drinking water

everywhere, and plenty of

The Eedskins conceive

fish.

of the better world as a vast hunting-groimd,

game comes

of its

own

In the Tonga

hunter.

where the

accord to meet the blow of the

islands,

they suppose the dead

to,

dwell in a spacious and shady abode, where they amuse

themselves with dancing

The Patagonian

sugar-cane.^

sometimes

when they

see, in

are not sucking

sorcerers say that they

the very depths of the earth, the cave

where the souls are glutted with

cattle

and strong drink.

In the depths of Amenti, the Egyptians describe the

kingdom

of Osiris, the fields of Talu,

seven feet high.

You know by

where wheat grows

reputation Mahomet's

How

Paradise, and the Elysian Fields of the Greeks.

many

Christians of the present day have conceived an

idea in no

way more

elevated of the Paradise where,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

they believe they will pass their time in doing nothing unless

it

be taking pleasant walks and joining in

reli-

gious music

The

superiority

and the

inferiority of the fate

awaits the dead in the future

life,

which

though apparently con-

tradictory conceptions, are nevertheless simultaneously

held by 1

many

peoples ; for the popular imagination

is

not

Sayce, Hihhert Lectures, 1887, p. 357.

In Belgium, the Walloon populace still sing that in Paradise " they eat sugar with a ladle" (on magne Ah souc al losse). 2

3

Condensed from Rig-Veda,

ix.

113, 7

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 11.


192

DUALISM.

IV,

daunted by

Sometimes the souls are divided be-

trifles.

tween tbe two posthumous realms, according profession, or

mode

better world alone

of life of the deceased.

is

believed

and Samoa, the future and the

life

as in the

in,

to the rank,

And where Tonga

a

islands

sometimes exists for the chiefs

It "was observed, however, that

priests alone.

in the present life success

is

not always the privilege of

birth and of rank, but often falls to the most insinuating

Thus the

or the most courageous.

assigned to the heroes

better world

who fell on the field

would be

of battle, as is

notably the case with the Tupinambas of Brazil, the

Comanches, the ancient Mexicans, perhaps the Assyrians,

and the Germans, whose Walhalla was open

who

with their weapons

fell

to warriors

The

in their hands.

natives of Nicaragua despatched all

who

died in their

beds to the under- world ; violent death alone gave access to the country of the sun.

It is curious

enough

to find

the same superstition actually appearing in the Eussia of to-day, where the sect of the "Smotherers" take the

Matthew (xi. 12) literally, " The kingdom of heaven is taken by violence," and save their members from a natural death by anticipating their end when words of

St.

they are seriously

ill.^

The Esquimaux,

being a

for their part,

pacific

industrious people, promise heaven to those

caught the greatest number of seals and whales

and

who have ;

to those

who have been drowned iu the sea to those, generally, who have worked hard and finally, like the Mexicans, to women who have died in childbirth. You will observe that the deceased thus privileged ;

;

1

Leroy Beaulieu, L'Empire des Tsars

1881â&#x20AC;&#x201D;1889,

vol.

iii.

La

Religion, p. 367.

et les

Busses, 3 vols., Paris,


whom

especially those

193

DUALISM.

IV.

superhuman powers have

the

snatched away in the flower of their age

cumbed whUe rendering

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;have

suc-

community.

services to their

It is but natural therefore that the gods of the com-

niunity shoxild reward or rather compensate them.

ever this is

may be, we

How-

can already note the germs of what

presently to become the theory of retribution thrusting

themselves up through the mere theory of continuation. ^,

At the

â&#x20AC;&#x17E;

,

The theory

of

posthumous

.

stage ° of belief which I have called

.

.

spiritism, or class

authority; but

of

polydemonism, the dead form a

spirits

when

not subject to any higher

the existence of the gods

is

once

admitted, they cannot be excluded from intervening in

Being generally

the fate of souls.

installed in a

kind of

Paradise themselves, the gods admit thereto, by preference, such as

and

sacrifices,

their dues

when order,

have gained their good graces by praise

while those

must go

who have

to the tortures of hell.

them

A fortiori,

the gods have become the protectors of the moral

they will reserve Paradise to those

fought the good

and followed

fight,

justice.

done

The idea

to which the

ments

naturally leads as its

have found

its

peoples.

theory

way into Bosman

of Guinea imagine that

who have

right, observed the truth,

dead,

ward

failed to render

of a

of

judgment

of the

rewards and punish-

culmination,

appears to

the minds even of very backdeclares that certain Negroes

when they

cross the river of

death they are questioned by a superhuman being, who asks them if they have observed the sacred days and if

they have abstained from prohibited kinds of food.

Doubtless the Egyptians, like

all

known

peoples,

had


194

DUALISM.

IV.

own

their

ritual prescriptions,

the violation of which

would involve chastisement in this world and in the next. But what a moral chasm between the Guinea catechism and the following apology which,

.Negro's

thousands of years before our render

to

Osiris

" Yerily, I

know

you.

man.

I

tribunal

gods

the

of

you, ye lords of truth and of justice.

you the

I have brought for

the

before

the believer must

era,

I have destroyed lieing

truth.

have not committed any fraud against I have not

I have not persecuted the widow.

I have not broken faith.

lied before the tribunal.

have done no forbidden thing.

I

made the

I have not

foreman carry out day by day more work than was due. ... I have not been anywise neglectful,

not been

...

idle.

abominable

to the gods.

with his master. rous murder. .

,

The

,

I

am

which was

I have not injured the slave

I have not starved.

I have not slain.

to weep.

one,

I have not done that

I have

I have not

made

I have not planned treache-

I have not committed fraud against any-

pure, I

am

pure, I

theories of continuation

am

pure !"^

and of retribution are

sometimes found side by side in the beliefs of the same people. all

This co-existence

is,

for that matter, rendered

the easier by the belief in several abodes of the dead

and several

factors of the personality.

must be brought position, of ideas

other,

there

is

If a little order

into this parallelism, or rather super-

which seem mutually

to

exclude each

nothing to prevent the double being

told off to continue the life of this world in one of the ^

6. Maspero, Histoire ancienne des peuples de I'Orient, fourth

edition, Paris, 1886, pp. 38, 39.


IV.

195

DUAIISM.

abodes assigned by popular tradition to the dead, and the soul or the spirit being allowed to go to Paradise or Hell

according to the balance of is

notoriously

merits or demerits.

its

This

what took place with the Egyptians, who

appear to have believed at the same time that the double

went on with the old existence

in the tomb,

and that the

soul descended to Amenti, there to be judged.

Greek Hades, which

The

originally received all the shades

had a

indiscriminately, afterwards

special department,

Tartarus, reserved for the punishment of great sinners

whereas the heroes and even virtuous

men

went, after

death, to the Elysian Fields in the islands of the blest.

With

,. . ^ iseUef in

remuneration souls

the Hindus, the distribution of the '

between the various sojourns of the

dead seems to have been rendered needless

by

the belief in metempsychosis.

upon earth that the theory realize itself, in a

tions

;

was

specifically

of retribution

sought to

It

graduated scale of animal re-incarna-

whereas the absorbtion of the personality into the

bosom of the great whole became more and more the supreme recompence of the Brahman theology. The Buddhists went stiU further in this direction. They suppressed the whole conception of a posthumous tribunal and judgment, or even judge, since they dis-

pensed with gods in their moral system ; but they retained

from Brahmanism the theory that each re-incarnation

mechanically,

by the

re-incarnated,

in

some

sort

anterior conduct of the deceased.

Indeed, strictly speaking, is

of re-births, while holding

was determined, it is

not the same soul which

but the karma

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

that is to say,

the

resultant of all the acts of the iadividual, good and bad.

o2


196

DtJALisjr.

IV.

It is perhaps to their conception of the future life that

owe the astonishing

the northern Buddhists their

success of

propaganda amongst the Chinese populations, at the

expense of the old

The

cianism.

or rather of Confu-

official religion,

latter,

admits the survival of

indeed,

souls, passed into the state of spirits,

domestic worship

but

;

"

You do

justifies

the

has nothing to say as to the

it

any posthumous

conditions of their future state, or bution.

and so

not yet understand

life," said

retri-

Confu-

more than 2000 years before " how then can you profess to under-

cius to one of his disciples,

modern Positivism

;

stand death ?"i

The only punishment

of the

which the great Chinese reformer appears that their descendants, corrupted will shirk the duties of

by

piety

filial

their

.^

wicked

to admit

is,

bad example,

But the masses

could not rest content with this philosophical solution

and as soon as they found themselves in contact with a religion

as

in revelations

rich

of

future states as

Buddhism, especially the Indo-Tibetan Buddhism already corrupted

by the

reaction of local superstitions, a great

part of the nation superposed the amplified and degene-

rated doctrine of

Buddha upon the

ancestors, as well as

on the

official

traditional worship of

ceremonies of Confu-

cian rationalism. Jewish esohatology.

The j^^ve

religion of ancient Israel appears to

been equally inaccessible

remuneration in another world. future

life

to ideas of

The conception

of a

does not advance beyond that Sheol in which

"there are neither

arts,

nor work, nor knowledge, nor

Happel, Revue de Vhistoire des

'

J.

^

A. Eeville, Religion des Chinois,

religions, vol. iv. p. 275, note.

p.

345.


IV.

l\dsdoin;"

the infidel

and all

and where the criminal and the righteous, and the saint, Assur and his assembly, Elam no

his people, lie

197

DUALISM.

less

than Israel and his descendants,

To complete

confused.^

beliefs already traced

the analogy with the

amongst the Assyrio-Babylonians,

there are certain chosen ones, such as

Enoch and

who have been

the special favour

carried to heaven

by

Elijah,

Yahveh, just as Eabani and Xisuthros, the Chaldean. Noah, were snatched from the gloom of Arali and placed of

in the region of the silver sky

But an

in Judea,

by the grace

where the moral sentiments

essential factor of religion,

of the gods.^

finally

became

these exceptions were

not enough to satisfy the demands of justice, as

it

sought

compensation for the persecuted righteousness and trium-

phant iniquity of

The

this world.

Aryan and Egyptian religions were, however, closed against the Jews. The overshadowing greatness of Tahveh already precluded the existence of immortal beings at his side. While the solutions of the

Greek philosophy developed the idea of the soul spiritual

constituting

entity,

the

veritable

as a

man and

using the body as an instrument, Jewish speculation refused to regard the body otherwise than as living

The

flesh.

ruakh, the equivalent of our vital breath, was an

emanation, or rather a free

a fragment of his in and

for

own

itself.-

(civ. 29, 30),

gift,

of

Tahveh, or even

divine ruakh, which alone existed

"All living things," says the Psalm

"wait upon thee; thou withdrawest thy

1

Ezekiel xxxii.

^

F. Lenormant,

22â&#x20AC;&#x201D;32.

La

divination et la science des presages

GJialdeens, Paris, 1875, p. 153.

cliez les


198

DUALISM.

IV.

breath, and ttey die

;

thou sendest out thy breath, and

they are created, and thou renewest the face of the earth." Since, then, they could not put their hopes in the

future

life,

the Prophets were compelled to seek their

realization in this world,

was on earth kingdom of Tahveh,

and accordingly

that they expected the coming of the

at first for the exclusive benefit of their

it

own

nation, but

afterwards for the salvation of humanity at large. as

M. Eenan

says,

was the only way

This,

of vindicating the

Hence rose the Messianic ideas, which from the Captivity onwards seem to have taken a two-fold direction. In some minds it was simply a honour of Yahveh.^

question of a national restoration which would culminate in the assumption

by

peoples of the earth.

work

hegemony over all the This restoration would be the

Israel of the

of the Messiah, regarded sometimes as the descend-

ant of the lawful dynasty, sometimes as a kind of angel

by the Lord. Others conceived a complete social renovation, in which peace and justice should reign over sent

the nations converted to the worship of the true God,

the part of Messiah falling to the chosen people itself. " In that day Israel ^hall be a third with the Egyptian

and the Assyrian.

There

shall

be a blessing upon the

Yahveh Qebaoth shall bless it, and shaE say, Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of

earth. '

my

hands, and Israel mine inheritance'" (Isaiah xix.

24, 25).

who should see the dawn of that great day others ? They who had died in the past or who

Blessed they

But the

should succumb during the waiting-tide 1

Histoire

du peuple d'Israel,

vol.

ii.

?

Is

it

right that

pp. 437, 438.


JTist

men

persecuted in Yaliveli's cause during their lives

should be deprived of it

199

DTJAIISM.

IV.

share in the final triumph ? Is

all

who

right that the wicked

died in wealth and impu-

The

nity should escape all future punishment ?

belief in

the solidarity of the generations, and even the idea of expiation,

whereby the sufferings of the just weigh against

the offences of the sinner, could but imperfectly satisfy the demands of the Israelite's conscience.

Then was

conceived, or at least brought into prominence, a doctrine

which we likewise meet in Mazdeism, of time the actual world

would proceed

all

from which

would the just who had died from the creation

new

beginning would receive a

wicked would be

Ahriman.

that at the end

would be destroyed, that Ormuzd

new

to a

be excluded, and of the

viz. the resurrec-

The Persians believed

tion of the body.

evil

body, whereas the souls

finally destroyed, together

The Jews could not accept

with

this theory in its

completeness, since they did not believe in the survival of the soul, but they adapted

by

it

to their

own

aspirations

picturing a resurrection of the dead on the day of

the 'final judgment, or rather a re-construction of the dissipated bodies

and

their re-animation

by the breath

of

Yahveh.i

You

are aware

how

this

dogma found

Christianity, in the moral conceptions of

tains itself side

by

side with the idea

immediately after death

;

its

way

which of a

but the religious

it

into

main-

judgment

spirit, as

you

have already seen from innumerable instances, does not shrink from placing the most divergent or even contradictory theories side '

Ezekiel xxxyii. 7

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 10;

by

side.

Indeed,

Isaiah xxvi. 19; Daniel

it

derives

xii. 2.


200

DUALISM.

lY.

certain advantages

this inexhaustible wealth of

from

explanations; inasmuch as

it is

thereby enabled, without

breaking the continuity of the religious development,

which are superseded by the

quietly to drop theories

discoveries of science or the advance of the moral con-

and bring

sciousness,

to the front

such others as better

answer to the needs of the age. ,,

The union

,.

Moralization of the divine ^the

of morals

and

religion, or rather

belief that the moral order enters into

the divine order, influences not only the conception of the future itself.

we

If

look

but also the idea of the deity

life,

how

the diverse

were

attributes

successively ascribed to the gods at the most advanced

stage of polytheism,

we

shall see that

man

first

recog-

nized his deities as possessing the attributes of power,

and then

assigned to

one after

them,

another,

qualities characteristic of intelligence, of love,

of morality.

Many

punishing the sins of mythologies

as'

gods

Of the

men

are

who

still

the

and finally

are described as

represented in the

debauchees and brigands

;

yet as soon

as they are regarded as protectors of the moral order

amongst men, they are themselves in private

like so

life to

many Judges who abandon

the very abominations which

they punish from their exalted tribunal. Hence a gradual

tendency to moralize their character and their mutual I'elations, as

well as their intervention in the affairs of

ma,n.

How

can a scoundrel inculcate straightforwardness, or

a perjurer veracity?

How

can an adulterer or thief

enforce respect for the marriage-tie or property ?

How

can a creature as grasping as a miser cultivate the spirit


IV.

201

DUALISM.

of self-devotion and self-sacrifice ? First of

the tradi-

all,

tions which, attribute criminal or simply gross actions to

the gods are thrown into the shade, or allegoricaUy explained, and only those passions which are regarded as

noble are

them. These, however, include not only

left to

courage, but resentment of injuries, jealousy, passion, love of praise,

and partiality towards

fulness throws

him

mines to destroy

all

into

the

Yahveh reserves

friends.

his favours for the children of Israel,

paroxysms

human

and their unfaith-

of rage.

race,

He

deter-

and then repents

he hardens Pharaoh's heart that he may have the opportunity of inflicting the plagues iipon Egypt.

he deceives the to punish

them

Moreover,

When

Israelites themselves.

for their profanations,

he seeks

he gives them

" statutes that are not good and ordinances by which

they cannot live" (Ezek. xx. 25).

In

this process of moralizing the deities, one or another

of the traditional qualities

god

of each

is selected

which figure in the character

and thrown into

relief.

Indra,

Thor, Ares-Mars, in virtue of their mythological prowess, will

come

to

Yaruna and acts of

be regarded especially as types of valour. Osiris,

as the

heaven which sees

all

the

men, and the sun which throws light upon them,

become judges 'par excellence. Pallas Athene, who sprang aU armed from the head of Zeus, whether origin-

will

ally the personification of lightning or of the dawn, will

become the goddess

of wisdom.

Hestia, the pure flame

of the hearth, will represent chastity

and the domestic

was long before Zeus could venture to take upon himself personally the judgment of the souls of the virtues.

dead.

It

He

wisely

left this

function to the incorruptible


202

DUALISM.

IV.

judges of Hades. But in the end he became the avenger

and at the same time the moral regu-

of outraged right,

" If the gods do aught that

lator of the universe.

is

base,

they are not gods,"^ says Euripides; and his vigorous

German

utterance finds a practical illustration in the

mythology, for when the trespasses and treasons of Loki

began to wound the moral sense of

his worshippers, they

debased him from the ranks of the JEsir.

human

Finally, as the

passions

ideal

becomes more exalted, the

assigned to the gods are further purified by

still

the exclusion of

all

movements

of the soul that

inconsistent with the majesty, the holiness

and the

seem

and the kind-

from which they can no " I will not exelonger be conceived as departing. ness, the justice

cute the decree of

my

love,

wrath ; I will not turn to destroy

I am God and not man ;

I

am the Holy One

in the midst of thee, and I will not

come in wrath"

man comes

at last to ascribe

Ephraim, for

(Hosea

xi. 9).

In a word,

to his deity only the

and

soul, justice

two

loftiest

perfectly good, lacks not

what concerns

we

justice

sentiments of the

any virtue

and love."^

;

and

least of all in

Going

still

notice that the former of these sentiments

nated to the

latter,

human

"God," says Plutarch, "being

love.

is

further,

subordi-

inasmuch as the divine punishments

are conceived as having for their object the improve-

ment

of the sinner, as

when

a father chastens his son

until at last chosen religious spirits learn to proclaim

that "

God

is

love," not excluding from this term the

idea of justice, but realizing

it

therein under

its

sublimest

aspect. ^

Bellerophon Frag, xix,

v. 4.

^

De defedu

oraculorum, xxiv.


identit

203

DUALISM.

IV.

men and

Henceforth, the bond between

of

human and gods no longer depends on the analogy of divine good,

f

'

..

.

.

.

,

tneir enjoyments or their passions, butI on

identity

and reciprocity

aspiration

of

which make the gods

feel for

what

is

sympathies,

of

endured by men.

It is no longer through the duration of a single life

only that Osiris, Yishnu, Krishna, Buddha, or the

Messiah, personally submits to the miseries of a

m order to

earth,

vation

;

of every

briag

man

life

upon

happiness, justice and sal-

but everywhere and always, from the bosom of

celestial glory, fall,

he

feels the reaction of every injustice,

" Since

of every undisturbed misfortune.

I received the great wound," says Osiris, " I

by every wound." ^ employed by Isaiah to with the

Israelites.

afflicted"

(Is.

all

human

It is almost the very expression

describe the sympathy of

" In

Ixiii.

their affliction

all

The

9).

cruelty to the poor,

penetrates the whole

am wounded

idea that

he was

injustice,

on Yahveh himself,

is inflicted

Hebrew

all

Yahveh

literature

;

and amongst

the Hindus, the Yishnu Purana, extending the limits of the divine sympathy yet further, proclaims that whoso-

ever injures a living creature injures God.

And reciprocally the qualities and virtues thus ascribed to the

superhuman beings do not

moral attraction upon the

fail to

faithful.

" Is

exert a truly possible,"

it

asks Plato, " admiringly to investigate an object without striving to resemble act one

upon

it ? " ^

Thus Eeligion and Morals

the other, the idea of

ception of deity; and the latter, in

its turn,

the feeling of obligation, while fructifying ^

De

'

Republic, Mk.

Pressensd, L'ancien vi. ยง

13.

monde

re-

duty purifying the con-

et le

it

fortifying

with love.

ChrMianisme,-^, 124.


LEcruEE V.

MONOTHEISM. ^^

Gods attached *°

or the^*^ people.

have Seen that every nation begins

by admitting the real existence adored by its neighbours. The

of the

gods

Israelites in

the period of the Judges believed in the sovereignty of

Cheraosh over the people of Moab, just as of

Yahveh over the people

armies of

Eome

of Israel

;

^

much

and when the

besieged a city, they began

sacrifices to the local deities,

as iu that

by

ofEering

perhaps hoping to gain them

over to their side, or perhaps on the principle that leads savages to appease the spirit of the tree which they are

about to

fell,

by

offering

it

a sacrifice.

It naturally follows that the sphere of action of the

gods

always limited either to the territory regarded

is

as their patrimony or to the people their suzerainty.

twelve

tribes, it

which has accepted

If the country of Israel

was because the god

belonged to the

of Bethel

had pro-

Abraham and Jacob (Gen. xiii. xxviii. xxxv). In another passage of the Bible we find the Syrians mised

it

to

believing themselves safe against the Israelite invasion

1

Jephthah's envoys said to the king of

Ammon,

" Wilt not thou

Chemosh thy god giveth thee to possess? So â&#x20AC;˘whomsoever Yahveh our God hath dispossessed from before us, them will we possess" (Judges xi. 24). possess that which


because, as they said, Yahveh.

Ms power

205

MONOTHEISM.

V.

does not extend to

is

tlie

a mountain god and

plain (1

Yet more, a change of country implies When David is reproaching Saul with

Kings xx. 23).

a change of gods.

com-

his exile, he

plains that his enemies have compelled

him

to quit " the

heritage of Yahveh," and have said to him, " Go, serve

other gods" (1 Sam. xxvi. 19); and reciprocally

when

Euth, the Moahitess, follows her mother-in-law to Bethlehem, she cries, " Where thou goest, I will go, and

wiU dwell

where thou

dwellest, I

my

and thy God

people,

God when the

;

my God"

thy people shall be

(Euth

The

16).

i.

of Israel is so closely connected with the

soil,

that

Syrian general Naaman, healed of his leprosy

in the waters of Jordan, gratefully desires to raise an altar to

Yahveh

in his

own

country, he must carry

a certain portion of the Israelitish

soil,

'*

as

much

away as the

load of two mules" (2 Kings v. 17).

On

the other hand, in his

own domain, Yahveh

is

the

lord of strangers as well as the lord of the Israelite.

When

the Assyrians have captured Samaria, carried

the Israelites into

captivity,

off

and replaced them by

populations from beyond the Euphrates, the latter com-

Yahveh because they know not how to render him the homage he desires, and they beg the king of Assyria to send them some of the former sacrificers to teach them ''the way But to serve the god of the land" (2 Kings xvii. 27). plain that they are exposed to the wrath of

the Bible

tells

us that these same peoples also retained

the worship of the gods they had venerated in the land

whence they had come. gods of

In

fact,

however

the peoples may be bound to their own

closely the territorieSj


206

V.

MONOTHEISM.

come

to identify themselves so

closely with the nations as to

accompany them wherever

in tte end they must

they take up their abode. Yahveh himseK was the God

Jews in Babylonia, even when the Captivity had come to an end, and the exile of the colonists had become a voluntary residence. In the same way, Assur was at of the

first

simply the god of the city that bore his name.

when the Assyrians to

transferred the seat of their empire

Nineveh, the god of their ancient capital

the supreme god

eir

peop

still

remained

of the nation.

Another consequence of Deities share the lot of

But

close con-

this

.

.

nection between each people and

,

its special

es.

^^^^

^^^^ ^^^ latter share the fates of the

.^^

people and even of the tribe or the proviace which originally fell

their

to

lot.

Mesopotamia was divided into

had

its

principal

members

of

In pre -Assyrian times, little states,

each of which

god drawn either from amongst the

the local pantheon or from the

divinities of Chaldea,

and the fortune

of the

common

god

invari-

ably followed that of the state or dynasty which had

adopted him as

hegemony

its

Thus we see a temporary achieved by the lunar god Sin

protector.

successively

with the city of Ur, by the sea-god Ea with Eridu, the solar

god Samash with Larsa,

Ann

with Urukh, Mul-lil

with Agade, Merodach with Babylon, and (as

we have

just called to mind) Assur with Assyria.

It was the same in Egypt, where, as soon as the nomes were

united into a

state,

attempts were

made

to identify the

respective gods of the little local pantheons one with

another, while choosing for the supreme deity the chief

god

of the dynasty in

power or of the

city

which served as


â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

Osiris at

at Mempliis,

Ammon

its capital

207

MONOTHEISM.

V.

Abydos,

Ea

at Heliopolis, Ptali

at Thebes, Neith. at Sais,

and

so

forth.

"When a nation

lost its

independence,

its

gods did not

cease to exist, but passed into the service of the condeities.

Thus

the deities of the countries annexed by the.

Eoman

querors and became subordinate to their

armies successively swelled the ranks of the imperial pantheon, more or less disguised in

Eoman

The

livery.

same thing took place ia Peru, where the Incas

collected

in their great temple of the sun at Cuzco the images of

the gods worshipped by

had absorbed The supreme god

of the

all

the various nations that they

into their empire.

Under such

a

system, if a nation rose '

towards supremacy over the known world, its chief deities,

and especially

must necessarily approach

god,

Thus Jupiter came

its

to universal

to extend his empire

supreme

monarchy.

from the

Irish

the Sea to the basin of the Ganges in the Greek and Eoman armies. Or, again, it might equally well come to pass that, simply through the development of their own theology, peoples were led to regard train of

In

their

supreme god as the master of

fact,

by dint of constantly repeating that their own was the mightiest of the gods, they would come

deity

all

the gods.

at last to believe that the latter were not only inferior

in power and rank, but were his mere vassals

to

him

or

subjects.

This was the point of view at which

the Judean people had arrived at the end of the period of the Monarchy.

may

Finally, there is a third path

which

lead to the political unity of the superhuman world.


208

MONOTHEISM.

V.

It is that of the reciprocal assimilation of the deities

Indeed,

form the several national pantheons.

"who

we may wonder

this assimilation did not

that

more

and more often occur amongst peoples who adored the same manifestations of nature but we must remem-

easily

;

ber that the nature-gods,

when once conceived

from outside the phenomena from which

as ruling

they originally

sprang, always acquired sufficiently distinctive features to give

them separate

names.

Thus

attempt

is

then

it is

it is

made its

to

individualities as well as different

only in syncretistic periods that any

and even

establish their identity,

own gods

that each nation takes as the

standards to which to refer the gods of the stranger. It

the Phoenician deities that Philo

is

re-discovers in the gods of Greece is

now

liken

to Apollo

and now

to

;

and

of

Byblos

reciprocally, it

Kronos that the Greeks

You

Melkarth, the divine king of Tyre.

are

acquainted with the process of assimilation by which

Herodotus attempted to draw the gods of Egypt into the classical pantheon.

method

Megasthenes applied the same

gods of India, and Caesar and Tacitus

to the

those of Gaul and Germany. certain

number

of

to

Zeus absorbed not only a

Thracian and Thessalian

deities,

but

the rulers of far more important pantheons, such as the

Lybian Ammon, the Egyptian

Babylonian Bel Merodach

;

Serapis,

and the

while Herodotus even gives

name to the great god of the Persians, that same Ahura Mazda who was destined to survive the Lord of Olympus by so many centuries.

his

Divine famiUes.

Imagination did not confine

itself to

the

conception of divine monarchies correspond-


MONOTHEISM,

V.

ing to

all

the independent states or diverse races on the

earth.

Within the

human

societies,

it

limits of each of these smaller super-

erected groups on the type of the

"We have already seen how man was brought

family.

by

209

the necessities of language to attribute sex to every

And

manifestation of nature.

therefore

when

these

manifestations were personified, they naturally became

male and female.

After that,

simple or more consistent, to produce a third,

what could be more

when two phenomena

whether by fusion or by reaction,

than to consider the personification of this offspring

of

its

husband and wife

two ?

united

factors,

By

last as the

themselves regarded as

a similar deduction, phenomena

which sprang from the same

source, or

were supposed

do so, or even had certain traits or properties in common, were regarded as brothers and sisters; as, for example, the sun and the moon, the two twilights, sleep and death, and so on. to

The divine fatherhood,

whole

Presently these family relations of the

g^^g were extended

creation,

maintained

have led

and

they embraced the

The confusion creating and begetting, which half-developed languages, must

and especially mankind.

between the terms for still

till

itself in

to a spontaneous fusion of the ideas of creator

father.

Sometimes, as in Egypt and with the Incas,

was the reigning dynasty alone that laid claim my exalted affiliation. ''I call upon thee,

it

Amon

to this

father

" exclaimed

Eameses II. at the battle of Kadshu. "My many soldiers have abandoned me; none of my horsemen hath looked towards me; and when I called !

them, none hath listened to p

my

voice.

But

I believe


210

MONOTHEISM.

V.

that

Amon

is

worth more to

me

than a million of soldiers,

than a hundred thousand horsemen."^

The

name which the Hindus, their heavenly deity, Dyaush

analysis of the identical

Greeks, and Latins gave to pit^

= Zew

7raT)7|0

= Jupiter,

implies not

only that the

ancestors of the Indo-Europeans spoke the same language

and worshipped the same god, but further that they

"Be

addressed that god as a celestial father.

unto us

easy of access," said the Vedic poet to Agni, "as a father to his son."^

hymn

another

father,"

Side

by

side with

invokes,

Dyaush, "our

Prithivi,

mother," and Agni, "our brother."^

"the good

It is the

same

thought that the Greek poet expresses when he maintains that " gods and men are sons of the same mother."*

In the West, regime of feelings

this idea,

caste,

and

could not fail to stimulate more generous

to

provoke democratic inferences.

must culminate

divine paternity

man.

of

no longer held in check by the

in

The.

the brotherhood

"Wilt thou not remember over whom thou

rulest?" says Epictetus, addressing a master ,on behalf of his slaves, "that they are thy relations, thy brethren

by nature, the offspring of Zeus?"^ Amongst the Semites, the idea of the divine paternity was at first kept in the background, hampered in its 1

Le Page Eenouf, Hibhert

^

Rig-Veda,

i.

^

Rig-Veda,

vi.

Lectures, 1879, p. 228.

1, 9.

51, 5.

Prof.

Max

Mliller has

presents itself at every step in the Rig- Veda. pp. 222, 223. *

Pindar, Nemea,

'

Arrian, Epicteti Diatribm,

vi. 1, 2. i.

13.

shown that

this idea

See Hibiert Lectures, 1878,


211

MONOTHEISM.

V.

development by the very majesty

of the deity, wliich

could not brook the establishment of any such relation

But

with the gods.

may

it

not altogether absent, as

is

see from the invocation of a

to Istar

:

a mother

how

it

"

May

Mesopotamian

we

hymn

thy heart be appeased as the heart of

who has borne

children ;"^ and you are aware

appeared amongst the Jews at the beginning

and end of the Captivity, in the prophecies of Jeremiah

and

of the second Isaiah, to become, with its corollary

of the brotherhood of man, the cardinal doctrine of the religion taught

The

metaphysical speculation

\Vmentrf^ nwnotheism.

by Jesus.

The highest

place of

i

i-i

i

point of development that j

^

polytheism could reaea ccptiou of a

embracing

is

j!

j

round

m •

j.i

the con-

monarchy or divine family, terrestrial beings,

all

and even

The divine monarch or father, however, might still be no more than the first amongst his peers. Por the supreme god to become the Only God, he must rise above all beings, superhuman as well as human, not only in his power, but in his very nature. The conception of this new and higher nature is the fruit of metaphysical speculation. Monotheism is hardly the whole universe.

complete until man, having conceived the idea of a cause, of eternity, of infinity,

them

and

of the absolute,

first

makes

the attributes of one only being, the Being par

excellence.

And

at once in the

these conceptions are not formed

human mind

;

all

they are the products of a

slow mental evolution which acts upon materials already in existence, furnished

by previous conceptions

deity. 1

Sayce, Hihhert Lectures, 1887,

p2

p.

352.

of the


212

MONOTHEISM,

V.

Thus we

how

see

evolution may-

the monotheistic

lines to the

have advanced along very different

and may have proceeded, in the majority

end,

same

of cases,

without any rupture with religious tradition. „.

,.„

early concerned Metaphvsical speculation ^

.

•' Simplification . . of the national itself with the

.

.

.

theology of the civilized peoples.

The way to the recognition of the divine unity had been paved almost everywhere by the identificasame phenomenon,

tion of the chief gods representing the

Thus the Egyptians found means

or its diverse aspects.

of gradually drawing all their deities into the circle of the

divine families already established in triads on the model

human

of the

family represented by father, mother, and

"We have seen how they gradually assimilated the

son.

gods of the dead and those of the elements to the type of the solar divinities identified

sun,

and the

;

latter

were in their turn

with the sun, or rather with the soul of the

which remains one in

all

its

manifestations, and

which thus becomes the universal soul

of all the gods.

the Turin papyrus, this mysterious deity

"I

am

them. ... I

to all the gods the soul

am Chepera

in the evening."

In

made

which

in the morning,

is

Ea

In

to say,

the maker of heaven and of the earth. ... It

who have given

Tmu

is

is

I

within

at noon,

^

a

fact, this is really

new being appearing behind

the ancient gods; but since this "hidden soul of the

^

Le Page Eenouf, Hibhert

the Aiharva Veda,

xiii. 3,

•who becomes Mitra

become

13

Lectures, 1879, pp. 221, 222. :

when he

"In

rises

in the

he traverses the firmament Indra, he burns the heavens at the zenith." Savitar,

Compare

the evening Agni becomes Varuna,

when he has when he has become

morning ;

;

'


Lord

of the

Disc" equally manifests Mmself in

chief deities, the to

him

213

MONOTHEISM.

V.

name

of

all

the

any one of them may be given

Hence comes the Egyptian heno-

indiiferently.

theism, which alternately assimilates Ea, Osiris, Ptah,

Ammon, and

the

rest, to

tuate this equivalence place receives the

the supreme God.

still

names

To accen-

more, the chief deity of the

On

of all the other gods.

royal tombs of Biban-el-moluk,

Ea

is

the

invoked under

Book of the Dead has a whole chapter made up of nothing but' the names seventy-five different names, and the

of Osiris.^

Or, again, the supreme soul receives a

formed by the union

of all the appellations given respec-

tively to the supreme gods of the different cycles Osiris,

name

:

Sokar-

Ptah -Sokar- Osiris, are complex names which

appear as early as in the ancient empire

;

and

later

on

we meet with Horus-Chem, Chnum-Ea, 8ebak-Ea, AmunEa, Amun-Ea-Tum-Harmachis.^ And this was no mere The Egypconscious that the gods thus drawn

juxtaposition of words or verbal syncretism. tians

were really

together were in truth identical one with another.

It

mythic formula of this fusion which

is,

so to speak, the

is

given us in the following words

:

" Osiris came to

Mendes; there he met the soul of Ea; they embraced and became as one soul in two souls." ^ We must note that in these identifications we are directly concerned with solar gods alone

with the

p.

first

persons of the triads;

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

-that is to say,

but just as the

1

Le Page Eenouf, Hibhert

^

Gf. C. P. Tiele, Ancienyies religions de I'Egypte, &c., Paris, 1882,

Lectures, 1879, p. 87.

137 {History of the Egyptian Religion, London, 1882, ^

Booh of

the

Dead,

ch.ap. xvii. lines 42, 43.

p. 223).


214

MOIS'OTHEISM.

V.

unity

obtained especially represented the active

thtis

principle of nature, symbolized

by tbe

solar rays, so, in

manner, the goddesses, reduced in their turn by an

like

analogous process to a single type, easily passed into personifications of space, or of the matter

worked

divine activity dera,

Hathor

is

upon which the

At Den-

to produce the world.^

assimilated not only to Isis, but to Neith

of Sais, to Saosis of Heliopolis, to Bast of Bubastis, to

and other s.^

Sothis of Elephantine,

whose nature

As

gods

to the

or attributes or special local circumstances

prevented them from melting into the great solar deity,

they readily united with the third person of the

triad,

the son of the divine couple, the personification and the synthesis

of the

phenomenal world begotten in con-

tinuous generation. The

-A-^l

triune

god of Egypt.

that

this triad the

being in which

which, so to speak,

sometimes found in the

soul

"spirit

more

which clothes

first

by

put above and behind

was resumed and

it

melted.

it

as reproducing itself in a

was now needed was one more

ggQj,^ qÂŁ abstraction, to

That higher unity was

person of the triad, regarded ;.

sometimes

than the gods;

the holy

eternal generation

spiritual itself

into

with forms, but

itself

remains

unknown."^ It is this triune god,

who,

to

employ an expression

Egyptian theologians, perpetually "creates his

of the

own members, which

are the gods."*

Pantheon Agxjptien,

1

Paul

2

Le Page Eenouf, HiUert

*

Cf.

*

Maspero, Histoire des peuples de

Pierret,

Book of the Dead,

The

latter are

p. 27.

Lectures, 1879, pp. 87, 88.

xv. 46.

V Orient, 4â&#x201E;˘^ ed., Paris, 1 886, p. 279.


215

MONOTHEISM.

V.

the universal ailment, " an immense loaf in

completing

itself

in.

Yet

a single heart." ^

middle society-

further, each

may become

one of these apparently secondary gods in

tlie

Only One," or "a divine

of -which dwells the

turn a centre of emanation, giving birth to other

its

gods by the genesis of

triads.

But when

all

said

is

and done, they are never more than the names and aspects of the one only being.

"Amon

hymn copied by Brugsch from Khargeh, " Atmu is an image, Chepera says a

is

an image,"

the walls of El

an image,

is

an image; he alone maketh himself in millions ways." 2

is

An

Semitic

monot

eism.

Semites.

Ea of

analogous movement of theological

concentration took place amongst the western It

was immensely

facilitated

by the

habit,

already formed, of designating the most important deities solely

by

their titles

;

for

whatever

dij0S.culty

might be

found in welding together divine representatives or governors of the heaven, the sun, the thunderbolt, the wind,

and such

like

phenomena, or even the

mere abstractions little

illustrious dead, or

of one kind or another, there could be

objection to identifying all the superhuman beings

known

as the

the Eternal,

Mighty, the Strong, the King, the Creator,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

to say nothing of those Eedoubtables, or

Elohim, who, as

M. Eenan

as a single being

and even take a

Phoenician

formed

states, or rather

their triads, not

harmony singular verb. The

observes, act in

the principal Phoenician cities,

by uniting three

of the

most

powerful deities of the local pantheon, as in Mesopotamia, 1

P^ul Pierret, Pantheon Agijptien,

"^

Le Page Eenouf, Hihlert

p. x.

Lectures, 1879, p. 233.


216

V.

MONOTHEISM.

but by combining with tbat of his consort

the

tlie

and

-worsbip of the divine king,

As

of their child.

in Egypt,

person of this triad was probably borrowed

j&rst

from the luminous personifications

of the

air

or the

sun and represented the creative power, the ruler par excellence; the second, perhaps originally a personifica-

tion of the earth or moon, represented nature properly so

called,

aspect

under her two-fold fruitful and murderous

the third seems to have been very

;

much

except where mythology interposed to give

it

effaced,

distinctive

For the rest, the great goddess herself, the "Mistress" (Baalith) or " Queen "(Milkath), was regarded

features.

less as the spouse

face,"

than as the visible manifestation,

and therefore the

'

the

supreme god.

reflection of the

Sometimes, indeed, like Tanith of Carthage or Astarte of Cyprus, she succeeded in throwing her spouse into

the background, but fell into

it

was more often she

herself

who

the second rank, or even disappeared in the rays

of her lord and master.

One cannot

dispute the anthropomorphic character of

the deity as represented in the oldest traditions of the

Yahveh moulds man like a potter garden of Eden and walks through it in

Bible.

evening like a rich Mesopotamian. footsteps.

He

;

he plants the

the cool of the

Adam

hears his

comes down from heaven to see the build-

ing of the Tower of Babel.

He

and drinks with Abraham, and the latter washes his feet. He struggles with Jacob and allows himself to be overcome. At the time of the Prophets he

Whoso

looks on

him must

is

die.

eats

no longer seen in person.

But he

reveals himself in

the manifestations of light and of the storm.

Finally, he


V.

217

MONOTHEISM.

above these natural phenomena, and becomes a

rises

voice speaking to the conscience of the righteous.

Nowhere have idea of divinity, tualization of

I found this development of the or, to

Hebrew

speak more accurately, this

spiri-

Yahveh, better followed out and expounded

than in a memoir by M. A. Sabatier, Professor of the Faculty of Protestant Theology of Paris, on the " Hebrew

Conception of the Spirit."

^

Here we

the "ruakh" of the Eternal, at

how the

see

first

breath,

simply identified

with the wind which "makes the heaven serene" (Job xxvi. 13) and "parches the grass"

synonym

the

and

comes to represent the

finally

abstract idea of absolute force, " _

,

God

becomes

of force in the moral as well as in the

metaphysical sense,

distinct

(Is. xl. 7),

He who

is."

Here we have a first form of monotheism, which the god is regarded as external '

as

_

from in

_

to the universe, or at least as distinct

We observe that

matter.

this system, generally

from

spoken

of as

Deism, has especially prevailed amongst peoples

who,

like the. Semites, regard force as the essential attri-

bute of the superhuman beings, and have risen to the conception of unity by developing their ideas of causality.

On

the contrary, peoples who, like the Indo-Europeans,

seem to have been more struck by the identity of nature running through their divine personifications, have found the corner-stone of their monotheism in the idea of selfexistence

formed

it

and then, by a further extension, have transinto a pantheism in which the Creator and the

;

creation melt into a higher unity. *

a

In the volume entitled

M. Edouard

La faculte de

It

is

interesting to

theologie protestante de

Reuss, Paris, 1879, pp. 5 sqq.

Paris


218

MONOTHEISM.

V.

follow this development wherever all

successive phases,

its

has passed through

it

only to establish the uni-

if

formity of the process in every case. God

The Conception

creating

out^of hk'^own substance. still

himself into fragments to create the universe ÂŁg

found in rudimentary form amongst peoples

in a state of barbarism.

The Chinese

who produced

speak of a certain Panku

traditions

the wind

by

made day by opening his eyes, and thunder up his voice. His right eye became the

his breath,

by

of a unique being resolving

lifting

gun, his left eye the moon, his blood gave birth to

the rivers, his flesh to the

soil,

his locks to the stars,

the hairs of his body to the trees, his bones to the metals, his finally

marrow

to the pearls

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;by an analogy

and diamonds, and

scarcely flattering to our race

the parasites upon him became men.^ the

Edda

The study

of

reveals an analogous conception, that of the

giant Tmir, whose body and blood respectively produced

the earth and the ocean, whilst his 'head formed the vault of heaven and his brain the clouds.^

The Yedas

likewise tell us of a primordial being, Purusha, whose

body, according to some stories, served the gods for the creation of the universe, but who, according to others,

doubled himself into male and female to engender the cosmic egg.^ Thus, again, the Chaldean traditions speak ^

A. Eeville,

La

Religion Chinoise, Paris, 1889, pp. 38, 39.

Journey of Oylfe,

In Snorre Sturleson's Edda.

2

Tlie

^

Monier Williams, Indian Wisdom,

viii.

p.

24.

In the Marianne

Islands they believe in a primordial being, Pontan, sisters,

when he

died, to

who

charged his

form the heaven and the earth out of his chest

and shoulders, the sun and the moon out of

his eyes,

and the rainbow


V.

219

MONOTHEISM.

of the

monstrous Tiamat, the personification of Chaos,

whom

Bel cut into halves to make heayen and earth;

though, according to another version, off his

own head

to create gods

was Bel who cut

it

and men with

who had thus

Finally, the idea rose that the being

severed himself into fragments

still

his blood.^

survived, or rather

that his disintegration was but apparent and did not affect his substantial unity.

This thought

is f oimd,

alike

in the Yedic song chanted in honour of Yaruna, and in

the Egyptian

hymn

graven on the walls of El Khargeh,

in terms identical with those of the Orphic poet of Greece,

who

"Zeus was the first. Zeus the centre. It is by Zeus that

cries,

Zeus

is

made.

Zeus

Zeus

the sun and the moon.

is

is

Zeus

the male.

is

For

is

all

thou art

air,

;

and whatever

thou art is

.

.

.

things were

all

these things lie art

youth and

age," said the scribe of El Khargeh in his turn. art heaven, thou art earth

last.

the eternal female.

"Thou

in the great body of Zeus."^

the

fire,

"

Thou

thou art water,

in the midst of them."^

" Purusha," the Vedic poet exclaims, "is in truth the

He

what has been, and what shall be;"* and a hymn of the Atharva Yeda keeps equally close to the same idea in this description of universe.

Yaruna

:

what

is

is,

" The two seas are the belly of Yaruna, and

even in this

little

out of his eyebrows.

pool of water he reposes." ^

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

^De Freycinet,

Voyage autour du monde,

vol.

ii.

Paris, 1829, p. 381. 1

Lenormant,

Origines de I'Mstoire,

{Beginnings of History, London, J.

3

Le Page Eenouf, Hibbert

*

Big-Veda,

x. 90. 2.

1880, vol.

i.

p.

p. 500).

Darmesteter, Essais orientaux,

2

Paris,

p.

125.

Lectures, 1879, p. 232. ^

Atharva Veda,

iv. 16. 3.

507


220

MONOTHEISM.

V.

Are we

to conclude that tlie religions

whose theologies

these old documents reveal, dereloped on purely mateas has

rialistic lines,

been affirmed?

To do

so

would

be to forget, at the very outset, that, at the period of'

which we are speaking, no one dreamt, as yet, of a body, even the body of the universe, without a soul to move

and

to guide

â&#x20AC;&#x17E; God ,

it.

than the gods," as

"more spiritual the Egyptians had it, that

becomes the true

Grod.

It is this soul of the world,

,

as the

soul of the

under what form

it is

conceived.

It remains to see

It

would be

double, although Plato,

to give it the character of the

consistently enough, represents

an archetype of the

as

it

universe, pre-existing in the divine spirit. it

difficult

In general

a subtle element pene-

would be regarded rather as

trating all things, like heat or ether. " Spiritus intus alit,

Mens

Thus the fire

ether,

name

all

et

magno

pictured

Stoics

animating

totamque infusa per artus

molem,

agitat

it

se corpore miscet."^

sometimes as a subtle

portions of the world, sometimes as

sometimes as

life

par

excellence^

of Zeus from the verb

Xrjv.

even deriving the

The

school of Ionia

sought the same principle sometimes in water with Thales, sometimes in air with

Anaximander; while the

Pythagoreans found a supreme intelligence

(i/ou?)

at the

origin of things.

Thus conceived, the impersonal.

But most

soul of the world of these systems

as well as a philosophical side;

may remain

had a

religious

and there their

"first

principle," confounding itself with Zeus, recovered the 1

JSn.

vi.

726, 727.


attributes

of

personality,

consciousness,

reason,

" 0, Thou, whosoever thou

loTe.

221

MONOTHEISM.

V.

art, difficult to

pity,

know,

Zeus, or necessity of nature, or spirit of man, Thee I

who

invoke,

affairs in

treading the secret path disposest mortal

accordance with justice I"^

Pythagoras, in his

philosophical teaching, might indeed represent the uni-

verse as developing out of the linked progression of

num-

from unity ; but

this unity, the primordial

monad, was no other than Zeus

Soter, placed at the centre

bers, starting

and the

of the sphere;

first

derived numbers were the

equivalents of the great gods of the Hellenic pantheon.

The

Stoics,

on their

side,

though likening their "reason

of things" to the ether pervading nature, none the less

erected

moral

it

into a real

qualities,

Zeus or

and living god, endowed with

whether they called

it

by the name

all

of

not.

In India, even before the Yedic epoch, light was regarded as the essential and general attribute of the chief deities, as their

a step to

make

very name devas indicates. light the

common

beings and therefore the deity jtxjsr

It

was but

soul of the divine excellence, of

which

the other gods merely represented the diverse names and " Oh, Agni," says a hymn, " thou art born aspects.

Varuna, thou beeomest Mitra when kindled;

all

the

gods are in thee."^ "They have styled him," says another hymn, " Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni, for the poets give

many names

to the one."^

Presently this identification was carried

Seeing that

fire

is

further.

met, under some form or another,

1

Euripides, Troades,

2

Big-Veda,

v. 3. 1.

still

885â&#x20AC;&#x201D;888. ^

Rig.Veda,

i.

164. 46.


222

V.

througliout nature,

it

monotheism:.

was regarded as the element common

and men, to beings and

to gods

to things, the principle

that reveals itself in light, heat, movement, conscience

and consequently the universal material, or rather the

The

universal soul.

idea of fire or of light itself

finally-

appeared too concrete, too material, to give form to the " I am incomprehensible idea of this subtle principle. in form," says Krishna in the subtle than the subtlest atoms

sun and moon,

far, far

Bhagavad

Gita,

;....! am

"more

the light in

beyond the darkness;

1

am

brilliancy in flame, the radiance in all that's radiant

the sound in ether, fragrance in the earth nal of existing things, the

Wisdom good

;

T

in the heart of all

am

in

life ;

I

am

the Beginning, Middle,

all

;

;

;

the .

.

.

the seed eter-

.... I dwell

as

the Goodness of the

End

;

eternal Time,

the Birth, the Death of all."i

Something the

fire

than

less concrete, or at least less material,

or the light

must be sought

to serve as the form,

or rather the symbol, of this spiritual principle

;

found in the breath, the prana or atman, which to symbolize the

human

soul.

The atman,

that

and also

it is

came

is to say,

the being that each one felt within himself, thus became

an emanation of the Paratman, the supreme Soul, the Unique without a second, who alone exists in himself.

Agni Lord to

yields the first place in religion to Prajapati, the

of creation

;

to Brahmanaspati, the

Yicvakarman, the universal

artificer,

Lord of prayer

and other abstract

denominations which better lend themselves to a more spiritual conception of the deity.^ "^

Monier Williams, Indian Wisdom, pp. 144, 145.

2

A. Earth, Religions de I'lnde, p. 21; Eng.

trans., pp. 29, 30.


'^^ ^^^^ however,

The imique Being, without a second;

223

MONOTHEISM.

V.

we have

not got beyond

the anima mundi which directs the universe, .

as hfe

individual beings

.

.

and intelligence animate and inspire and

;

this point of

a certain opposition between

God and

view

still

implies

But

the world.^

neither India nor Greece could stop half-way in the pantheistic reconstruction.

more

Eeligious India,

or, to

speak

Brahmanism which gave ever freer the Yedantic idealism, ended by inferring

accurately, the

admission to

the non-existence of the sensible world, which as a pure illusion, the

work

it

of the deceiving

regarded

Maya

internal thought of the absolute Being, dreaming in

through his successive creations. this

Being

by means

it

say that

God

exists,

him

an

and

to the nature of

can only be defined, say the Upanishads,

Of anything which comes under our senses and can be defined, we may

of negatives.

the range of

he

As

;

is

not that.

because that

We

cannot even affirm that

him by

ascribing to

at the very

most we can

is to limit

the attribute of existence

;

' The Egyptian hymns might declare that the supreme god was the unique being without second, " the immanent and abiding in all

things" (Hymn of El Khargeh) ; but all the same he appears to have been limited by matter, and in that respect Gnosticism may be briefly described as the heir of the old Egyptian religion no less than of neo-

"Admitting the eternity of an essentially inert matter," M. Gr^baut (Hymn to Ammon Ra, p. vi), " this religion inferred,

Platonism. says

from the organization of

this matter, the existence of a

hidden being,

the prop of universal order ; the eternal principle of the truth, which.

was that order

realized;

intelligent, good, almighty;

adored in the

sun, the visible instrument which he uses in creating and maintaining life,

and so imparting truth in

powers."

spite of all evil principles or

Typhonic


224

V,

only say that in

Him

MONOTHEISM. existence and non-existence are

combined.

In the same way amongst the Greeks, the neo-Pythagoreans and neo-Platonists, by dint of logically develop-

ing their respective principles, finally met in a pure

from

created the

an ideal type, which existed in his reason

all eternity, as

foundation, in the

formed

God

Plato had taught that

Pantheism. "world after

the plan of a city exists, before

mind

its

The world was model conceived by reason and

of

after an invisible

an

architect.

things were tossed

intelligence.

Seeing that

about

confused and disordered movement, the

in

a

them from the bosom

Creator drew subjected

all visible

them

to order,

"thiaking

and

of disorder

the latter far pre-

ferable."^

This ideal plan, to which Plato ascribed an objective existence,

included the archetypes of

all

things

and

;

these archetypes realized themselves, so to speak,

penetrating and

fashioning matter,

are their copies.

The

ceived

is still

it

were

Things become like them, and participation of things in ideas

consists in their resembling

lives,

which they

" Ideas are as

introduced a spark of real being.

the models of nature.

into

by

them."^ The God thus con-

an active being, who thinks,

wills,

and

although he does not directly intervene in the

work of creation. But the neo-PIatonists of Alexandria relegated the deity more and more completely into a sphere wholly beyond conception, and, under pretext of removing his ^

Timmus,

ยง 10, 11.

^

Parmenides,

ยง 13.


limitations,

would that

deprived

him

justify worship.^

was

it

still

225

MONOTHEISM.

V.

of the

last

which

attributes

Proclus, like Plotinus, declared

possible to unite oneself to the deity,

withdrawing oneself from the restrictions of the phenomenal world, by dint of renunciation and ecstasy. But

God was

their latest successors declared that their inaccessible as he

was unknowable.

It seems as

as

though

agnosticism were to be the logical conclusion and inevitable consequence of the whole ancient philosophy.

We

may

note that in China, too, where the

religion re-organized

by Confucius hardly

official

rose above

the conception of a divine monarchy, imitated from the

Chinese empire, the philosophical sect of Taoists seems

have risen at a single bound

to

physical Pantheism.

The

to the height of meta-

Tao, that

say the prin-

is to

ciple or source of all things, is represented

as evading all definition,

"You

and even

all

look upon the Tao and you see

by Lao-tsze

comprehension. not, it has

it

no

colour you listen and you hear it not, it has no voice you would handle it and you touch it not, it has no "The Tao which can be expressed is not body."^ the eternal Tao."^ Might one not suppose one was lis;

^

"

He is incomprehensible not even the whole unimuch less the human mind, can contain the conception of him know that he is, we cannot know what he is we may see the Philo says

:

:

verse, â&#x20AC;˘we

:

:

manifestations of

him

in his works, hut

it

were monstrous

folly to

go

behind his works and inquire into his essence. He is hence unnamed ; for names are the symbols of created things, whereas his only attribute is to ^

be."

See Edwin Hatch, Hibbert Lectures, 1888,

p. '245.

Tao-te-King, chap. xiv. (translated by Stanislas Julien, Le livre de

la voie et de la vertu, Paris, 1842). 3

calls

Ibid. chap.

" the

i.

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;-The

" Tao that can be named," which Laotsze

mother which produces

all

beings,''

is,

according

lu


226

MONOTHEISM.

V.

God " unknown to those "who profess to know him, known only to those who profess not to know hini"?^ Amongst the Persians, Ahnra-Mazda, exalted as his tening to the Upanishads, as they declare

position

is,

remains more or

less limited

by the temporary is too marked

existence of Ahriman, and this opposition

allow of his absorbing his opponent into himself.

to

In the end, however, the two came to be regarded as

or hypostases

offspring

Zervanem Akaranem.

of

"

Time without

The germ

limit,"

of this conception is

already found in the Avesta, where " time without limit" distinguished from the "time of long rule."

is

Minokhired, time without limit

which all things take place.

is

In the

assimilated to destiny,

by

under the Sassanides,

Finally,

Zervanem Akaranem becomes the Supreme Unity.^ Tbe

But, in the monotheistic evolution which

ancient

^^^ÂŽ

'^^

the^facf°of

the Only God.

^he

what becomes

witnessed,

j'^ÂŽ*

gods of polytheism

ancient

of

"Were

?

they not destined to vanish with the conception of the only God, into which

had

the individual forces of nature

all

some sense melted

in

?

would point out, in the first place, that if the idea an only God can be reconciled with the real existence

I of

M. Ch. de

Harlez, the indeterminate

Tao made active by the appear-

ance of desire. 1

to

"

He is

truly

him who

prehend

Kena

;

J.

he

is

i,

2.

the East, vol.

Darmesteter,

pp. 316 sqq.

to

him

:

him who he

is

conceives

him

not; he

is

incomprehensible to those

unknown who c6m-

comprehended by those who comprehend him not."^-

Ujianisliad,

Boohs of 2

known

conceives

3, i.

after de Harlez

The Upanishads,

Ormazd and Ahriman,

;

p.

cf.

Max

Mtiller,

Sacred

149.

Paris, 1877, pt.

iii.

chap.

i.


V.

227

M0N0THEIS3kr.

why

of terrestrial beings, there is no reason

it

should

not harmonize equally well with the belief in inter-

human

nature, but taking

this world.

The monotheistic

mediate beings, superior to part in the

affairs

of

transformation of almost

all

the historical religions seems,

in this matter, merely to have brought upon the ancient deities a fate analogous to that

transformation

secondary

of

spirits,

which the

polytheistic

nature -worship brought

when

it

upon the

threw them into a subordinate

rank as agents, servants, messengers, and ministers of

Thus the establishment

the chief gods.

of

monotheism

has not generally constituted so sharp and radical a revolution as one might have supposed, especially where it

has remained the privilege of the enlightened few.

Even Buddhism, though deity at

did not attack the existence of the ancient

all,

Vedie gods

who had

could dispense with any

it

;

it

was content

raised themselves

to represent

by

them

as beings

merits above the

their

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

humanity in the

scale of transmigration some" thing like those planetary brothers of man" whom a

level of

contemporary of our own (who certainly cannot be suspected of any tenderness for religious dreamings), the

author of The Irreligion of

the Future^

M.

Gruyau, ima-

gines may, somewhere in the universe, represent a higher

product of the universal evolution.^

Islam preserves

the angels and the djinns of previous beliefs, to say

nothing of the almost superhuman position which assigns

to

its

founder.

Post-exilian Judaism

is,

it

no

doubt, reputed the monotheistic religion par excellence.

Nevertheless, ^

it

surrounds Yahveh

with angels and

L'irreligion de I'avenir, Paris, 1887, p. 446.

a2


228

MONOTHEISM.

V.

archangels,

powers,

Elohim

dominations,

of a former time,

that of the

and thrones, which

higher degree of abstraction, the Bene

replace, at a

and play a part analogous

demons in the Greek philosophy

to

of the latest

period, jj

In the worships which I have just men-

^^^

demiurges, mediators.

tioned,

may be

it

maintained that the reten-

...... tion of the ancient divinities was a concession â&#x20AC;&#x17E;

.

to popular traditions

;

and that these

retained in the religious survivals,^

divinities,

though

were only there as

system,

But, at any rate, this will not apply to

the monotheism that takes a pantheistic turn. in

fact,

mediate

the

existence

between

the

of

Here,

superhuman beings,

absolute

God and

inter-

the

visible

world, becomes necessary to explain the passage from

from the noumenal to the

the infinite to the

finite,

phenomenal world.

Not only was

prehensible in

itself,

incom-

this passage

but the erection of the deity into

the Absolute must have had the effect of breaking his direct ties with man,

very

To

and thus putting an end

possibility of the relations

re-establish them, there

which of

to the

constitute worship.

was nothing

throw across the abyss a chain

all

for it but to

superhuman powers

bordering on the one side upon supreme perfection, and

on the other upon the sensible world. gods,

Now

the ancient

already arranged by polytheism in a hierarchy,

were naturally marked out for

this ofiice of hypostases

and of demiurges. 1

According

to

strict

Islamite

doctrine

Allah alone should be

him nothing and no Le culte des saints die^

addressed in prayer or invocation, for except

one "can help or hurt." les

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Ignace

Goldziher,

Miisulmans, in the Revue de THistoire des Religions, vol.

ii.

p.

262.


V.

Thus

229

MONOTHEISM.

in latest period of

tlie

classical

paganism

tlie

neo-Platonist doctrine of emanation established a whole

chain of intermediary beings between God and man, growing in perfection as they approached the Supreme Being and as they freed themselves from every material bond; and again the demonology of Plutarch and

Porphyry

filled

the world with demons arranged in a

hierarchy, with the ancient gods of paganism at their

head; and the combination of these two conceptions inspired a last effort to bring paganism into

harmony

with the philosophical and universalistie tendencies of the time. It should be

remarked

that, almost

everywhere, as the

supreme God became more powerful and majestic, the popular conscience had spontaneously fixed upon some other divine personage nearer to aspirations,

or even passions,

exercised

human

in a

sentiments,

the function of

between man and the

This mission had already been

subordinate

degree by

all

the super-

beings, from the genii of the hearth to the souls

of the deceased; and fell to

own

to fulfil

interceder, or rather mediator,

Sovereign of the skies.

its

now it

generally, but not necessarily,

a personification of the sun;

perhaps because

mythology had almost universally made him the mythical hero of quasi-human adventures, the ideal type of

exposed to the extreme

vicissitudes of fortune,

accessible than the other deities to sentiments of

pathy and pity. life,

man more sym-

Passing alternately between death and

he had necessarily become the pledge, and

certain extent the dispenser, of immortality.

he was a divinity essentially

visible

to

a

Finally,

deus certus,

as


230

MONOTHEISM.

V.

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

him more regular in Ms ways than fire or the wind, more personal than the heaven, more active than the moon, more beneficent than the thunderbolt. Did he not fulfil his function of mediator by tracing the

Aurelian

calls

road that leads between heaven and earth

?

We

need

not be surprised, then, that as the chief gods of the great pantheons withdrew behind the veil of metaphysical

we

speculation,

note a remarkable revival by which gods

mount to the first place was so with Merodach in

hitherto regarded as secondary

in adoration and worship.

It

Mesopotamia, Yishnu in India, Helios and Mithra in the

Eoman

phenomenon absolute

And

empire.

to note in

God was

in

if

Egypt,

we have

not a parallel

because there the

it is

some sense drawn

from the

directly

solar personality. Osiris or Ammon became the Unique Being " more mysterious than the gods," without ceasing

to be the deity fights

who

dies each

day

to

be born again, who

with the darkness, and who judges the dead.

Even

we

find" that,

in pro-

actually becomes

"he who

is,"

in the religion of Israel

portion as

Tahveh

deputes to his angels

all

the interventions that appear

incompatible with his growing majesty. of

Yahveh who

he

It is the angel

reveals himself in the form of flame,

who consumes the flesh of the sacrifice, who struggles with Jacob, who reveals himself to Moses, and so on. is taken by abstractions, such as the Word, the Voice, the Name, the Glory, the Wisdom, the

Later on, this role

Breath of Yahveh, considered objectively, and, in a way, detached from God himself. In the 8th chapter of Proverbs,

Wisdom,

that

is

to

God, who conceives the world,

say the intelligence of is

already almost per-


She

sonified.

with God,

represented as existing side

is

she

is

"rejoiced before

231

MONOTHEISM.

V.

called his

him

"foster-child,"

at all times."

^

"I

by

side

and she

alone," says

the same Wisdom, as represented in a later work, " have fixed the limits of the heaven and hollowed the depths of the sea

;

my

I have established

dominion over every

portion of the earth and over all the nations." ^

way the "Word

the same

which can apparently

perhaps the only

create

In

human power

and not only fashion, since

can make the image of a thing arise solely by naming

it

it

appears as early as in Isaiah in the character of messenger, or agent, despatched

by the Eternal

to execute his orders,

a veritable angel, like Ossa (Fame), the messenger of

When Tahveh was

Zeus.^

so far exalted above the

universe as to be incomprehensible in his essence

—an

idea already formulated by the author of Ecclesiasticus (xliii.

27

— 33)—

as too pure to

or,

indeed, as soon as he was conceived

come

into direct contact with matter, all

and creative power is lodged in his abstract intermediaries. Thus the Hellenized Jews of Alexandria, active

such as Aristobulus, and above

all Philo,

had no

diffi-

culty in concentrating these intermediaries into a kind of hypostasis, which,

under the Greek name of Logos,

bore a singular resemblance to the anima mundi of the Stoics,

and the

intelligible

world of Platonism.

Amongst the Hindus, the Brahmans took care to retain

system,

the principal popular deities in their religious

while placing at their head the three great

gods of the post-Yedic epoch, Brahma, Vishnu, and 1

Proverbs

viii.

3

Iliad,

93, 94.

ii.

30.

^

Ecclesiasticus xxiv. 5, 6.


232

MONOTHEISM.

v.

^iva, themselves regarded as hypostases of a neuter and

impersonal Brahma. necessities of worship

Thus

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;inspired

by

side

side

by the

doubtless

with the metaphysical

idealism which regarded the universe as a product of universal illusion, they taught a kind of exoteric theology

which allowed some objective

men and

The impersonal Brahma was thought

of gods.

to evolve the universe

it

an

in

from his own substance,

web

spider spinning its

re-absorb

reality to the world of

out of

own

its

like a

and

entrails,

endless series of evolutions

and

to

dis-

solutions.''-

We

Eeligious syncretism.

toleration

God

of

is

all

forms of worship,

all in

corollary

the same for

all.

As

What,

in the

sum

then, does the

The

name

for the secondary deities,

are they not all alike equivalent

He who

hypostases of the Deity ?

much

as a tendency to

a single syncretistic system.

they give him matter?

fails,

first

^ÂŁ ^ truly pantheistic religion is not so

embrace them one

must not forget that the

and interchangeable adores

them

all stiU

of the phases they represent, to grasp the

divine unity reflected in the infinity of beings and things.

We

have already seen how, in Egypt, the gods were

regarded sometimes as the members, sometimes as the

varying names, of the one Being tion of the one

Being

still

;

left

and how the concepthe existence of the

gods unchallenged alike in popular worship and in theological speculation.

Amongst the Hindus, the system

of incarnations or avatars (literally, descents)

means

of absorbing into

Brahmanism the

provided a

local deities

that might otherwise have checked the worship of the ^

Earth, Beligions of India, p. 47.


V.

233

MONOTHEISM.

Buddha Hmself thus became an

Devas.

incarnation of

Visknu.^

The

classical

paganism owed

its last

period of vigour

growing conviction that the gods of all the peoples were equivalent, or rather that they were connected with the same deified forces and were a part of the same divine to the

Every one has heard of the chapel in which Alexander Severus placed Jesus, Abraham, Orpheus, and order.

Alexander the Great, side by side with ApoUonius of Tyana. The same emperor, whose reign marks the culmination of religious toleration in Eome, took part indifferently in the worship of Jupiter, Mithra, Serapis,

He

and Baal.

is

even said to have contemplated the

erection of a temple to Christ.

And

he certainly con-

firmed the Christians in the possession of a church in the Transtiberine district which had once been public property, and which

was claimed by the public autho-

rities.

M. Jean sous

les

"How

Edville, in his Histoire de la Religion

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

and judgment that

resulted

at

this syncretistic

;

for it united

the worships of the time in a kind of vague," solar

monotheism.^

The gods

of the old national pantheons

Conversely, the Japanese Buddhists taught that the gods of Shin-

toism were manifestations of the Buddha.

World, ^

tendency

once in prolonging the existence and in

facilitating the faU of the ancient beliefs

^

Rome

Severes which might equally well be entitled, Paganism met its End" has shown with great

clearness

all

ci

La

Religious Systems of the

p. 90.

Religion a

Rome

sous les Severes, Paris, 1886, chap. x.


234

v.

MONOTHEISM.

were too deeply compromised by particularism and by their

new

own

mythological past to lend themselves to the

part they were

now

called

upon

On

to play.

the

other hand, the abstractions of the theosophical schools

Word

Eeason, Wisdom, even the

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;lacked the vivid and

anthropomorphic characteristics needed to secure them the homage and sympathy of the masses.

But when,

in

the bosom of Alexandrine theology, the hypostasis of the Logos became flesh in the person of Jesus,

who was

already the centre of a moral doctrine answering to the aspirations of the age, then, indeed, a religion

destined to conquer

than

and

to preside for

more

over the destinies of Western

civi-

all its rivals,

fifteen centuries

was born

lization.

The question has

The

Christian theodicy,

the

fall of

-^^ixethcr

often been discussed,

the rise of Christianity hastened

the ancient world, and whether

it

must be

held responsible for the long intellectual night of the

Middle Ages.

The truth

is,

that the ancient civilization

was irrevocably doomed, and that Christianity itself was involved in the decline which followed the fall of

ancient paganism.

It is not

my

present purpose

to trace the history of Christian theology during the

centuries

You know how

which followed.

lated between a monotheism, in

it

oscil-

which the persons

of

the Trinity approximated to simple hypostases of the Deity, and a veritable Tritheism, which accentuated the distinction of the three persons to the prejudice of the

divine unity.

The

reconciliation of these

terms remained impossible

:

it

two extreme

was a mystery which the


V.

235

MONOTHEISM.

believer imist admit witliout professing to explain it;

was

bucIl

decree of the Cliurcli, raised in

tlie

its

capacity

of living interpreter of the Deity above the very Scrip-

tures themselves.

No gave

doubt the conception of God, or rather Theology, rise

Ages.

to

But

innumerable speculations in the Middle

these speculations were bound

down

to the

bed of Procrustes provided by an orthodoxy that was often itself a mere mechanical compromise between conNominalists and

tradictory opinions. ists

realists, rational-

and mystics, were successively condemned as soon

as they attempted to

draw out the

of their respective principles.

logical consequences

We

have nothing but

respect for the labours of such thinkers as Scotus Erigena,

Abelard,

St.

Bernard, Eoger Bacon, David of Dinant,

Albertus Magnus, and Thomas Aquinas,

who kept the

light of philosophic culture burning during those dark

days.

But whatever

may have

services

some

of these scholars

rendered in elaborating logical and philo-

sophical method, and whatever influence some retain in orthodox

circles,

may

still

the labours of Scholasticism

can hardly be regarded as having made any more substantial .contributions to the

advancement of the religious

problem than are due

the intermittent and often

to

irregular explosions of the heresies which were after another

one

drowned in blood.

The Keformation re-opened a gate

to the spirit of free

inquiry, and thereupon philosophical criticism, to which

the Eenaissance had given a

way it

new

life

and vigour,

straight-

applied to the dogmas of Christianity the methods

has long ago directed against the theodicy of Greek

paganism.


236 ^ trod ,

MOKOTHEISM,

V.

.

,

fied with the ahsolate unity

by modem p 1 osop y.

bute

The idea

^.

identi-

God was

of

thus reduced to the

freed from

conception of Unity, functions,

released from the

ajj^j^j.QpQj^Qj.pjj^jgjj^^

common

to

human

nature,

till

German it

love,

idealism,

once more to

Even

the conception of sole and absolute Being.

and

oi

stripped of every attri-

treading in the steps of Spinoza, reduced

ligence, justice,

mythical

.. umitations ,.

.

intel-

have once more been challenged

as attributes of the Deity, because they imply the notion

The

of a personal and therefore a limited being.

pessi-

mist philosophers allow at most a kind of unconscious will to the Deity; the Evolutionists reduce, or, will,

expand

from which

it

all

"an

if

you

Infinite

and Eternal Energy,

things proceed."^

In a word, we find

into

ourselves returning from every side to the Inaccessible of the latest neo-Platonists.

In

truth, it is not the existence of

philosophy and science challenge.

attempted any such task,

it

Or,

if

that modern criticism has

has only been as a philo-

Systems may,

sophic exercise.

God

if

they choose, forbid

us to think about such questions, but whenever think about them

—and

shall find this idea of

always?

will not that be

God embedded in

we do

—we

our consciousness

as the" very foundation of all relative existence.

What

science really has proscribed is a belief in seons, avatars,

mediators

—in a word,

" secondary gods;" and this

which complicates with a new

difficulty

it is

every attempt

at religious reconstruction.

We have just

seen

how the

ancient philosophy, by the

expedient of hypostases and divine emanations, found ^

Herbert Spencer, Ecclesiastical Institutions,

p.

843.


237

MONOTHEISM.

V.

means, not only oi giving

tlie deities

formerly worshipped

a place in a rational system, but eyen creating fresh

when

deities

there

is

if

one axiom which has sunk deeper than another

into our minds,

laws,

But now,

suppressed the old ones.

it

phenomena

that all

it is

by

are ruled

and that outside the contingent world thus orga-

nized there

Being from

is

room

whom

naught save the One Absolute

for

all

things proceed.

Gods and demons have disappeared, more.

Or,

their equivalents exist

if

universe, here on our planet at least

to

return no

anywhere in the

we must

perforce

admit that they have no power of making themselves felt or

known; and we

make

Cicero's

are

more and more tempted

words our own:

such thing can happen as

we

"Think not

that

to

any

often see in plays, that

some god, coming down from heaven, should join the assemblies of men, hold intercourse on the earth, and converse with mortals."^ If

any intermediaries between man and God,

conceived, exist, they can only be our

own

as

now

faculties,

such as Eeason, or Conscience, or such abstractions as

Law

Moral Order, the forth.

But

Humanity, and so

are entities with no

these

discrete existence

of Progress,

personal and

they can only take shape by becom-

;

ing attributes of something or of some one.

why

is

Unitarians, and the Eationalistic communities of

modern Christendom, nearly to approach plenitude. 1

in general,

have come

man who seems

the Ideal in that

its

This

it,

And

even

so,

too,

if

to reverence

in their eyes most

not to realize the

Positivists,

Oratio de haruspicum responsis, cap. xxviii.

it

in all

in pro-


238

V.

MONOTHEISir.

claiming the Eeligion of Humanity, hare but organized the worship of those types -which have contributed

most

development

to the

we must admit and the Jesus

of

human

But here

society.

that the saints of the Comtist calendar, of Liberal Protestantism himself, are

longer in any sense hypostases of the Deity

;

no

for they are

no longer superhuman beings, freed from the normal conditions of humanity, nor are they the necessary

manent media

and per-

of the Deity in his relations with the world.

We are perpetually thrown back, then, on the unknown, the latest Alexandrines as the

unknowable Being

of

object of religion.

Yet neither

religion nor philosophy,

nor even science, compels us to be content with this purely negative solution. ,

X lL6

6t6rilS.l

and

inflnite

all things

procee .

We

what the Unknowable has become in the hands of Herbert Spencer. The Conclusion to which his brilliant and darmg are aware

ggientific generalizations lead

him

is

not only

a belief in the positive existence of the Absolute, but a vindication of our right to attribute to that supreme reality the

characters

of

unity,

omnipresence, and eternity, which

and eternal energy whence 1

all

activity,

make

it

immanence, " the infinite

things proceed." ^

Mr. Spencer has been reproached with this as a contradiction and

an inconsistency. Perhaps the great representative of Evolutionism would have done better had he used the term Incomprehensible rather than Unknowable, to mark our inability to express, or even adequately to conceive, either the essence or the attributes of that

But we may remark that he himself is careful to two kinds of knowledge ; the definite knowledge, the laws of which are formulated by logic, and the indefinite knowledge, which can only be formulated by the aid of symbols. If I understand

almighty energy.

distinguish between


239

MONOTHEISM.

V.

he refuses to assign to

It is true that

attributes of conscience, of goodness,

we

as

this

and

energy the

of personality,

conceive them in the system of our relations with

the finite world

but he explains that this

;

is

simply

because of our inability to seize the true modes of the

"Is

Infinite.

not just possible," he asks of those

it

who accuse him of want of a mode of being as much and Will

we higher mode questioning

its

existence

how

not seen

But

incompetency

rather the reverse.

to a conception

phenomena? is

this is not a reason for

Have

utterly incompetent our minds are to

form even an approach underlies all

it is

;

It is

any such

are totally unable to conceive

of being.

of that

which

Is it not proved that this

the incompetency of the conditioned to

grasp the unconditioned

Does

?

not follow that the

it

ultimate Cause cannot in any respect be conceived

us because

it

is

transcending Intelligence

as these transcend mechanical motion ?

true that

we

"that there

religion,

is

by

in every respect greater than can be

conceived?"^

Some

The power, that mate s'&r righteousness,

more or him

less

'^^S

^^

Sponcor's

of

^^ ^^7

bavo gone

still

^^^^

disciples,

them

of Evolutiouism,

further, sometimes with the

formal sanction of the master.^

rightly, it is because it is

the right

an object of

From

this imperfect

knowledge

only that he qualifies the supreme reality as unknowable. Principles, chap.

iv. ยง

the

First

26, p. 88.

^

First Principles, chap. v.

^

See his

letter to the

ยง 31, p.

109.

Eev. Minot Savage, author of Tlie Religion

of Evolution (Boston, 1876), in which he congratulates him on having " exposed the religious and ethical bearings of the evolution doctrines." "โ€ข

I rejoice very much,'' adds Mr. Spencer, " to see that those doctrines


240

MONOTHEISM.

V.

fact that all observable

pbenomena, that

is

to say the con-

tingent manifestations of Energy, realize themselves in

accordance with law, they have concluded that the reign

law

of

one of the modes in which the Unknowable

is

and they have taken occasion herefrom

operates,

bute to the supreme Power,

mined goal

like the objects

if

to attri-

not a conscious and deter-

pursued by man, at any rate

a tendency to secure the utterance of universal order in

"While such

the moral as in the physical world.

a

tendency," says Mr. John Fiske, "cannot be regarded as indicative of purpose in the limited anthropomorphic

the objective aspect of that which,

sense, it is still

when regarded on In

fact,

order

its

subjective side,

we

Purpose."^

call

not only does order exist in the universe, but this progressive, as

is

we

are taught successively

astronomy, geology, paleontology, and the history of

This progress manifests

lization.

domain, where

it

;

next, in the spiritual domain,

reveals itself in the rise

it

morality.

the physical

takes the form of growing complexity and

adaptation of organisms

where

itself first in

by

civi-

and development

of

Thus " the infinite and eternal energy whence

coming to the front. It is high time that something should be done towards making the people see that there remains for them, not a mere negation of their previous ethical and religious beliefs, which, are

as

you

say,

have a definite

and unshakable foundation

scientific

I have been long looking forward to the time

when something of this kind might be done, and it seems to me you are the man to do it." This letter, published with Mr. Spencer's sanction, in 27(6 Christian Register of Boston,

much

as

March

29, 1883,

is all

the more significant, inas-

Mr. Savage attributes to evolution a goal in some sort pre-

determined. ^

John

Fiske, Tlie Idea of

Boston, 1885,

p.

xxiv.

God

as affected hy

Modern Knowledge,


24r

MONOTHEISM.-

y. all thitigs

proceed" "becomes a regulating power of wMcll

we have

the right to say that

though

Not

tends to good, even

it

ultimate goal should for ever escape our vision.

its

that I

am

called

upon

to take sides as

between

the various explanations of the world current in our day, or even to enumerate the systems which a history of

philosophy would have to deal with.

on the theology philosophy

is so

of

much

special attention to

amongst

Evolutionism,

it,

If I have dwelt it

in vogue that

it

because that

is

forces us to

and further because

it is

pay

the one

the great syntheses of our day which breaks

all

most completely with the traditions and the methods of

But

the past.

I should be the

has no right to claim

with the demands

who

lines indicated

our nature,

by

it is

Spencer's

but right to

on the

refer,

however

who remain

rapidly, to faithful

the method of

in,

internal

would be mere dogmatic narrowness

deny the legitimacy its

doctrine

the spiritual and moral demands of

their philosophic constructions to It

it

Side by side with those

of science.

the attempts of those thinkers

observation.

admit that

monopoly of conformity

the

attempt to complete

first to

to

method, provided always that

of this

advocates, while themselves laying greater stress on

ideas of immanence, side

by

side with those of develop-

ment, are careful not to put themselves into opposition

with any nature.

facts established

by

impartial observation of

Indeed, for that matter,

assert that

German

we may go

as far as to

Idealism long anticipated the gene-

ralizations of the science of to-day.

The Flint,

attitude just indicated

Thomas Hill Green,

F.

E

is

notably that of Eobert.

W. Newman, James Mar-


242

V,

tineau,

MONOTHEISM.

and Matthew Arnold, in England ; of

Wundt, andtheNeo-Hegelians, in Germany; Vaclierot, Secrdtan,

and Fouillde, in France

Pfleiderer,"

of PaulJanet, of E.

;

Waldo

Emerson and Francis E. Abbott, in the United States, whether they hare chosen Will rather than Force express, in terms of our

power garded

own experience,

at the source of things spirit

;

to

the action of the

or whether they have re-

and matter as two phases of one mysterious

man

reality rising into self-consciousness in

;

or whether

they have sought in our moral aspirations the reflexion of a higher ideal, which reveals at once the objective exist-

ence and the essential nature of the Deity. sible to predict the

It is impos-

measure in which these speculations

are destined respectively to influence the theology of the future,

though the present

tide of philosophy

seems

to flow

more strongly than ever through the channels opened out by Kant and Hegel but the essential point is, that the ;

systems whose best-known representatives I have just

enumerated, while differing widely on to

which metaphysicians have always

less

many

questions as

differed, neverthe-

agree in representing the history of the world as an

evolution the progressive development of which bears

witness to the universal presence and unceasing action of an eternal

Power "not

ourselves

that

makes

for

righteousness."

Mr. Herbert Spencer's formula, thus completed by

Matthew

Arnold's, perhaps furnishes the point of recon-

ciliation

between the philosophy of evolution and the

religious school of positivism,

by allowing these two

systems to supplement each other without bating a jot of

their

respective principles.

In the words of the


American

243

monotheisat;

V.

"The

Positivist, "W. Frey,

intense feeling of

gratitude and admiration wHich [the

Positivists] feel

towards humanity will become only deeper and stronger if

humanity be regarded

as mediator

between man and

the infinite, because then will come into play the strongest

chord of religious sentiment,

i.e.

man's yearning for the

Infinite."!

And,

again, this conclusion enables us to combine the

human freedom with the demands of scientific determinism, if we can but admit the theory of idea-

fact of

expounded

so brilliantly

forces^

Fouill^e.

in the conscience, leads

activity to take its bearings

and

by M. A.

According to his teaching, the idea of

when once developed by being

in France

desired."

Its

afresh.

very birth

logical result of evolution,

germ present

is

"It itself

is

liberty,

human realized

the natural

the development of a

in all nature as the manifestation of the

primordial Will. fatality, infinite

" First comes a war of forces, brute confusion of beings striking one against

another without recognition, in a sort of blind misconception

;

then progressive organization, which allows

consciousness to emerge, and, with consciousness, will

then progressive union of beings gradually recognizing

The

one another as brethren. sient,

evil will will

be tran-

the offspring of mechanic necessity or intellectual

ignorance.

The good

will,

on the contrary, will be per-

manent, fundamental, normal, and will spring from the very roots of the being

itself

To bring

it

into distinct

existence in oneself will be to pass out of the transient 1

Boston, Index for Aug. 8th, 1882.

e2


244

V.

and

tlie

individual for

monotheism:. tlie

benefit of the

permanent and

the universal, to become truly free, and therefore to love."i It cannot be denied, then, that there exist in our times all

the elements of a monotheistic faith reconcilable with

the demands of the most exacting reason.

modern

All that

science postulates is the unity of the productive

power and the unchangeableness ance with which

it

manifests

of the laws in accord-

And,

itself.

as Dr.

James

Martineau has well observed, modern science, so confor ceived, " does not even disturb us with a new idea ;

Evolution

is

only growth;

how far into the be

carried,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;a

blish it all

merely raises the question

Nature that idea can properly

question surely of no religious signifi-

The Unity

cance is all

field of

it

of the Causal

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;which

Power

that the spreading network of analogies can esta-

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; cannot possibly be unwelcome working

as the

of

to those

One Mind,"^

who regard

or even, I would

add, as the utterance of a mysterious force seeking an end. 1

A. Fouillfe,

La

Libeiie et le Determim'sme, second edition, Paris,

1884, pp. 355, 356. *

Preface to

John James

Tayler's Retros;pect of the Religious Life of

England, second edition, London, 1876,

p. 32.


Lecture YI.

THE FUTURE OF WOESHIP AS DEDUCED FEOM ITS PAST.

Hitherto we have been concerned

„ Evolution ,

of the incentives to worship.

.

the development of the idea of „

.

consciousness oi

man

with.

m

.

.

God

tit

the i

j

as he slowly ascended

towards the higher regions of intellectual and moral It remaius to

culture. fications

which

this

examine the corresponding modi-

development of doctrine has produced

in the inward springs and outward manifestations of

worship.

Theology, interesting as

be in themselves, derives the measure in which ences the

life

it

its

its

problems

may

general significance from

forms the character and

influ-

Of the three motives which have

of man.

been the main factors of religion from the very to wit, fear, admiration,

and sympathy,

survives except as that emotion of

—the

awe

first

first,

hardly

called forth

by

the thought of the Absolute, by the contrast between

human weakness and

the irresistible might of the uni-

versal evolution, and

by the

certain

punishment which

sooner or later overtakes the least attempt to violate the order of the universe, in the moral as in the physical

domain.

Fear, then,

is

transformed into respect for the

moral law and reverence for

by the same

its

mysterious Author. And,

evolution, the second factor passes from the

irreflective to the reasoning, stage, as admiration for the


246 divine "work

is

deepened by

form a

loftier

harmony.

And,

to

THE FUTURE OF WORSHIP.

TI.

tlie

science that enables us

and broader conception

of tbe universal

both these elements tend to lose

finally,

themselves in the third, vrhich alone can leap the barriers

between man and the Deity.

The

Transformasentiment^of love of God.

old adage, Si vis amari, ama,

As

^ÂŽ applied.

soon as

by the

selves loved

men

gods,

may here

believed themthe

gods were

straightway loved by them; and this feeling, that had

hardly existed at the outset, became ever more generous

and powerful

as respect for the moral superiority of the

deity reinforced

Henceforth sin was shunned and

it.

virtue practised, not with a view to reward in this world

or the next, but simply to please the object of love.

The

belief in the

rewards of a future

life,

whether

it

take the form of metempsychosis, of personal survival, or of resurrection,

God,

may

strong enough,

if

chief incentive to virtue

fade and disappear

may

;

but love of

adequately replace

and love

;

it

as a

and I would even add

a nobler because a more disinterested motive.^

that

it is

The

religion

of

the

categorical

imperative no doubt

touches an equally certain and equally exalted spring of

but in enjoining duty because

action;

it

is

duty,

it

remains a severe and abstract philosophy, like the Stoic-

ism of former times, and can never be more than the .

privilege of a select few.

whether

its

object be the

Love

God

is

accessible to

all,

of the Christians dying on

the Cross to redeem humanity, or the sage of Xapila1

Abelard notes that fear of hell has no moral value, and that the

only true penitence of God.

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

is

inspired, not

by fear of punishment, hut by love

Pfleiderer, Philosophy of Eeligion, vol. iv. p. 259.


VI.

THE FUTUEK OF "WORSHIP.

vastu renoTincing the Nirvana to teach salvation

;

whether

it

247

men

is

manifestation, or whether

itself to

Humanity

and the

of

way

of

concentrate itself on the unlimited

power of which the whole universe etre

the

it

address

which Comte aspired

the harmonious

to

the grand-

be the revealer

apostle.

This has been understood by

the higher religions,

all

including not only Christianity, but the mystic sects of

Brahmanism and even of Islam. For to place love

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

all alike

have striven

or rather the desire to realize the com-

pletest possible unity with the Deity

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;above knowledge,

above even obedience, as the highest principle

Love

life.

of God, it is true, is in danger of culminating in

a mysticism which engulfs tions

of

and

man

in sterile contempla-

Thus amongst the Hindus

selfish ecstasies.

God have always culminated But ascetic negation of action and even of thought. the love of God may vary in degree, so likewise it

the outpourings of love for in as

may show

itself in

more or

less

When

worthy forms.

the good of the universe is regarded as the essential

purpose of the Deity, and when

it is

just this very con-

ception that strikes the chords of sympathy in the

human

heart, then the desire to please the supremely loved being

an exclusive and jealous

does not assert

itself as

ment, but as an

irresistible

senti-

impulse to love what the loved

man

God; and yet more, transcending the limits of humanity, it embraces all creatures in a common sympathy which may one loves.

Thus

it

becomes the love

of

in

even pierce the unknown spaces with the torch of imagination, and seek in other worlds beings to love and one

day to

aid.


248

VI.

THE FUTURE OP WORSHIP^

After declaring that the

God with

first

the heart, and

all

all

commandment

the soul, and

all

love

is to

the mind,

and all the strength, did not Jesus add that the second,

which bids us love our neighbour as ourself, was like Unto the first ? (Matt. xxii. 36 40). " Love is practical

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

nature," says a modern Indian writer; " if genuine,-

in

its

it

must come out in action

love at all."^

;

love that

is

not

active,' is

no

I need not insist on the splendid develop-

ment of charitable and philanthropic works which sprang and still springs from the Wesleyan movement. It proves, better than

any argument, that mysticism, when

on good ground, may assume an essentially

it falls

fruitful

and

by conceiving the love of God as the all moral activity, and grafting the love of man The life of a Channing, a Theodore Parker, a

practical character,

source of

upon

it.

Eammohun

Eoy, or a Keshub Chunder Sen, and the

institutions

founded

and developed in

England and

America and on the European continent by the

liberal

Protestants of every shade, prove that the religious source of this devotion to

humanity

not to be found in the

is

belief in the supernatural, but in a sense of fraternity

begotten by communion with God, and in a disinterested desire to share in the divine

work

of

human regeneration.

This development of the religious sentiment has not

taken place at a single stroke.

growth in the history

"We can trace

its

gradual

of the several religious institutions

which combine in worship. Disappearance

elementsTf worship.

I pointed out at the close of

festations of religion1

my

second

Locturo that the external or practical mani-

Brahmo Public

may be

classed,

Opinion, Jan. 23rdj 1879.-

even


amongst the most backward lowing heads: symbolism.

249

THE FUTURE OF WORSHIP.

ti.

peoples, under the five fol-

prayer, sacrifice, magic, divination, and

Some

of these are recalcitrant to all pro-

Such appear

gress or even transformation.

to be the

processes of sorcery, which remain, amongst ourselves,

exactly what they were in antiquity and

The whole

the savages.

on outside them.

still

are amongst

religious development has gone'

Everywhere rejected

or despised

by

the modern churches, they have taken refuge amongst the lower classes

and there in

or

;

if

they have kept their place here only on condition of

liturgies, it is

oflB.cial

ascribing the whole merit of their traditional efficacy to

the free intervention of the Deity

and even these sur-

;

viving concessions to weak souls are falling more and

more

into discredit,

and

their final extinction is easy to

foresee.

Divination has completely disappeared from the bosom of the great contemporary religions.

It is true

enough

that faith in the inflexibility of the divine decrees,

or,

in other words, in the immutability of the order esta-

blished

by the

gods, gave a fresh impulse to divination

in the ancient polytheisms, but

ning of the end

away from the

;

when

for

was

also the begin-

the art of predicting breaks

arbitrary intervention of the

powers and attaches cause and

it

itself

escapes from the domain of religion

effect, it

and enters into that

of science.

No

given birth to astronomy, than decisively arrested.

The almanac

no advance on the processes ancient Chaldea.

superhuman

to the connected order of

Here,

sooner had astrology

its

of

own

progress was

Nostradamus shows

of the astrological tablets of

too,-

progress

is

impossible be-


250

THE FUTURE OF WOESHIP.

VI.

.jond a certain point, and astrological divination nitely relegated to its place

among popular

is defi-

superstitions.

The Pythian and the Sybil henceforth are dumb, or rather their awful voices find no echo save in the dege-

nerate tongue of the "wizard and the fortune-teller.

But

other institutions which date from the origins of

religion maintain their place in our worship, their nature

was susceptible

of modification in accordance

with the changed aspect of the deity

^^

The

evolution of prayer,

trated still

by

because

itself.

have Seen that originally prayer was

essentially petition.

When religion

is

pene-

the moral idea, no doubt material blessings are

sought, but at the same time the superhuman powers

are implored for pardon of sins or even for

temptation.

The Bible

itself

power

to resist

has no more exalted utter-

ances of repentance than some of the Chaldeo-Assyrian

hymns which Francois Lenormant has well tential Psalms," or the staves of

some

called

of the

"Peni-

Yedic chants

addressed to the gods of justice or pity, Yaruna, Agni, Aditi, and others.

Another stage

advance

of

is

marked when men ask

for no specified favours from the gods, but throw themselves

upon

that they

and their goodness, in the belief what is good for their worshippers.

their insight

know

Thus the cry

best

Garden of Gethsemane implied absolute self-abandonment to an almighty and of Jesus in the

all-loving Providence

be done " (Luke

:

" Father, not

my will,

but thine,

xxii. 42),

But can prayer survive the

rejection, not only of belief

in miracles, but of all belief in the intermittent and arbi-

trary intervention of the Deity ?

Surely

it

may remain

as


,

VI.

251

THE PUTtJEE OF WORSHIP.

a subjective expression of the

loftiest religious aspirations

man, transformed into the spontaneous utterance of that gratitude, admiration and love, which the normal

of

unfolding of the divine works inspires.

prayer and,-

may

above

As

petition,

disappear; but as invocation, as homage, all,

as self-dedication to the task of moral

co-operation with the Deity,

the religious sentiment

The poetry which

it

will

remaiu as long as

itself abides.

personifies

everything has surely

the right to ascribe the most elevated attributes' of

human

nature to the supreme Reality.

Profoundly

reli-

gious minds have admitted that prayer can have no effect

should

on the Deity, yet have not renounced

we become

it.

Even

convinced that invocations are no

more than monologues, and wake no echo outside our

own

consciousness, like the Comtist prayers addressed to

we might yet draw from communion with our Ideal such strength as comes

the grand-Hre, Humanity, this

from any

effusion that raises us above the relative

and

the transitory, and places our feet in the region of the

Eternal and the Absolute.

Nevertheless,

it is

only

if

we

believe in the real existence of an omnipresent Power,

even though we refuse to define

its

attributes,

that

you prefer it, invocation, gives to the spiritual, moral, and even sesthetic faculties of the human soul their highest satisfaction. This truth is amply illusprayer, or,

trated

if

by some

of the liturgies in use in Theistic or Free

Christian Churches. The evolution of sacrifice,

^^n

begins by supposing the siiperhuman

beiugs to eat and drink like men.

The

Cari-

bees think they hear their cemis cracking their jaws


252

THE

TI.

wKen

OP "WOESHIP.

riTTXJKE

they are eating tKe provisions placed in special

tuts for them.

So, too, the l^egroes

fessed to hear the gurgling

of

and smack

Labode

pro-

as their fetish

drank the bottle of rum they had put within his reach.

Such

illusions

may

be maintained by the fact that

sooner or later the food

is

decomposed or carried

off

by

animals, and the drink evaporates or sinks into the ground.

A

Eussian traveller amongst the Ostyaks now and

again empties a horn of snuff which has been set before

an

idol,

and

in the

morning the people say the god must

have been hunting, he has snuffed so much.^

This ex-

plains the prevalence of certain forms of sacrifice which

disappearance of the offerings,

facilitate the

e.g.

burying

them for subterranean or aquatic deities, and burning them for celestial or atmospheric ones. Fire is more especially charged with this mission, not or immersing

only because

it

so soon reduces combustible objects to

but further because it seems to bear heaven in the smoke. " Agni," says the Eig-

volatile forms,

them Yeda,

to '.'

the offering which thou encirclest on

Thus

unhurt, that alone goes to the gods."^ sonified as the agent of sacrifice,

all sides, fire,

per-

assumes an ever more

important place as the mightiest and most formidable deities are located in the sky.

"Divine Priest appointed for Chaldeans named the Earth."

,p.

*

it

call it the

The Proto-

the " Supreme Pontiff on the face of

The Chinuks implore

^

Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol.

^

Rig-Veda,

*

Tiele, Anciennes religions

176.

The Yedas sacrifice."^

1. 1. 4.

ii.

p.

it to

345 (3rd

edition, p. 381).

s /jj-^;

de l'Egy;pte

intercede with

et des

i. i. i.

peuples semitiques, -


253

THE FUTURE OF WORSHIP."

VI.

Great Spirit to obtain abundant game, swift horses,

tlie

and plenty

of

Amongst the

male children for them.

Egyptians, Ptah, the god of the Cosmic Tire, has a son Imhoteb, whose name means, " I come in the sacrifice "

"in peace," and who

or

the

fire of sacrifices

personified, as Tiele assures us,

regulated according to the sacred

book.^ '^^^ custom of Committing sacrifice to the

Spiritualizing of sacrifice, fi^e

gave

rise,

in

turn, to the belief that

its

the gods only consumed the essence, transmitted to

them

in the

form of smoke or odour.

This

is

the idea

Eedskin who smokes his calumet in honour of " Fire and Earth," cry the Osages, the Great Spirit. of the

"smoke with me and help me The brothers Lander tell us

overthrow

to

of a village

my

foes."^

on the Niger

where they had slaughtered an ox, and the natives asked

them

to roast it

under a certain

might have the benefit of the

fetish, that the latter

The same order

smell.^

of ideas re-appears in the ofierings of burnt fat amongst

many

so

peoples,

from the Jews and Greeks down

to the

Zulus, and the burning of incense or perfumes which still

prevails in most parts of the world.

burning

of

fat,"

"The

smell

says Homer, "rose to heaven on the

smoke " * and we know that holocausts long continued to be a "sweet savour to Tahveh,"^ And ;

billows of

1

Tiele,

Ancienrms Religions de VAgijpte

64 {History of the Egyptian Religion,

p.

2 Tylor, Primitive Culture, vol.

ii.

p.

et

des peuples semitiques,

p. 94).

347 (3rd edition,

p. 383).

the

Eichard and John Lander, Journal of an Expedition to explore Course and Termination of the Niger, London, 1832, vol. iii.

pp.

104

3

*

sq.,

Hiad,

i.

under date Oct. 317.

29. *

Cf. Genesis

viii.

21.


254

THE FUTURE OE WORSHIP.

VI.

again,

in proportion as

the distinction between body^

down

to inanimate things, the belief

and soul

carried

is

tends to arise that the superhuman beings confine them-

consuming the

selves to

I have already cited the Negro's explanation

sacrifice.

that

was not the

it

tree that ate the sacrifice, but the

that ate the spirit of the sacrifice.

spirit of the tree

Some

spiritual part, or double, of the

have thought that

critics

we

to be true, but

same thing more or

find the

explicitly formulated in the

this is almost too subtle

most diverse parts

less

of the

world.

And now note these consequences. what may become of the sacrifice itself away,

left

themselves the

vail, in

;

sacrifice

and

first

next place as a the gods

are 1

it

may be thrown

Nay, the worshippers may

eat

this latter alternative tends to pre-

place because

it

saves waste, and in the

means of entering

by sharing

into

their repast,

communion with

and as giving the

a higher character of solemnity as a social and

religious festival.

which

;

there to decay, or abandoned to animals, just as

well as buried or burned. it

It matters little

lie at

common

Unquestionably these are the ideas

the root of those sacrificial banquets which

Sometimes the

to all organized religions.^

It is interesting to note that

an analogous superstition has survived

in European countries, where the belief prevails that the repast of the

survivors helps to redeem the soul of the departed. parts of Flanders pannekoeken (fritters) are

still

Indeed, in some

made on

All-Souls-

Every pannehoeke Henry Havard and Ginisty respecDixniude men are hired to consume

day, to be eaten for the benefit of the departed.

swallowed redeems a

soul.

tively report that at Bruges

as

many

MM. and

the digestions of the living as dead.

at

of these dainties as possible, since they are found to injure

much

as they benefit the souls of the


TI.

material portion of priests,

who

shall be for it is

tlie sacrifices is

handed over to the

are thus directly interested in their multi-

"That which remains

plication:

255

THE FUTURE OF "WOESHIP/

Aaron and

of the meal offering

his sons " (Lev.

ii.

3)

or, finally,

;

given to the poor, as in certain temples in the India

of to-day.^

The

Transformaofferiii^s°Lto

homage,

belief that the gods only eat the soul

^^ ^^ÂŽ victim, combined with the growing

conviction that their existence and felicity

are independent of

human

generosity, diminishes the

make the

objective importance of sacrifice, and tends to

idea of

homage preponderate over

that of actual gifts or

services.

Hence flow two

results, contradictory

enough in ap-

pearance, the one manifesting itself as an aggravation,

and the other as an attenuation,

On

of sacrifice.

the one hand, since the intention alone constitutes

the virtue of

sacrifice, its

value will be proportioned to

the privation the worshipper

inflicts

upon

the worth of the thing sacrificed in his

Greeks, with

whom

hospitality

under the special protection sacrificed strangers to the

himself,

own

was a sacred of

Zeus, at

eyes.

and

The

institution

one period'

Lycian Zeus, perhaps because.

a curious perversion of the argument just indicated led

them

to regard this as

We

know what

an eminently precious offering.^

eflficacity

the Semites attached to the

sacrifice of the first-born son.

was besieged ^

the king of

by the united forces

Moab

of Israel,

A. Chevrillon, Dans I'lnde, in the Revue des Deux Mondes for

March *

in his capital

When

1st,

Cf. F.

1891,

p.

100.

A. Maury, Religiom de la Grece antique,

vol.

i.

p.,

184.


256

VI.

THE FUTTJEB OF WORSHIPnr

Edom,

Judali and

lie

sacrificed his eldest son

on

the-

make the investing manner, when Carthage

ramparts, and this was enough to

army raise the siege. In like was reduced to the last extremities, the best families were compelled to give up their first-born sons to be burnt in a huge hollow statue of Baal-Hamman, But the hideous sacrifice did not prevent the triumph of

Eome.

Hence,

too, the idea,

always favoured by certain

religions, that the absolute surrender of person

and pro-

perty constitutes the sacrifice of highest worth in the eyes of the Deity, because

Hence,

self-imposed fasting and

ciation,

the most complete.

is

which

that form of asceticism

too,

expiation,

it

and carried

abstinence,

consists in

regarded as an

to the point of systematic renun-

solely to please the Deity, of everything not

absolutely necessary for the bare maintenance of a

reduced to

its

Attemmtion of sacnfioe.

to

life;

simplest elements.

^^^i ^^ ^^^ other hand, since homage is ^j^g essenco of Sacrifice, the intention ought

be enough

;

and no hesitation need be

felt in offering

a part for the whole, the inferior as a substitute for the superior, or the

fold

method

image instead

of attenuation has

effect in eliminating

(a.)

The idea

of the reality.

human

had a

This three-

specially beneficent

sacrifice.

The Part for

the Whole.

of substituting the part for the whole gave

rise to those religious mutilations

shipper (and especially the priest,

by which the wor-

who was supposed

to

give himself entirely to the Deity) sacrificed a part of his

body

as a substitute for his

whole being.

Sometimes

_


VI..

it is

THE FUTURE OP WOKSHIP.

a finger, a tooth, a piece of

257

flesh, or a

lock of hair,

sometimes a few drops of blood. In the time of Claudius, the Druids, who had formerly practised human sacrifice on a large scale, contented themselves with pouring a

blood upon the

little

The same thing takes place the Brahmans retain the sacrifice

altar.i

in India,

where

human

blood

in certain solemnities, but- only " a quarter as

much

a

as

lotus -leaf

will

hold."

of

In Greece, Pausanias

2

us that the altar of Artemis at Sparta had to be sprinkled with the blood of human victims chosen

tells

by

Lycurgus substituted the practice of flogging

lot.

boys before the altar

human

America, where proportions,

Mexican

the blood came.^

till

sacrifice

Quetzalcoatl,

deities,

bleeding.*

it is

reached such monstrous

the least sanguiaary of the

was supposed

Finally,

In Central

to

have substituted simple

by no means

certain that the

Jewish circumcision was not a similar attenuation. fact,

we

read in Exodus that

Egypt had stopped

In

when Moses on his way to Yahveh met him and

at a hostelry,

sought to slay him, but Zipporah hastened to circumcise her child, and thus saved her husband.^ ^

Pomponius Mela, Chorographia,

^

A. de Gubernatis, Mythdlogie desplantes,

iii.

^

Pausanias,

*

A. Keville, Hihbert Lectures, 1884,

*

Ex.

cision

iv.

24

iii.

2 (18). vol.

ii.

p.

209.

16. 10.

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; 26.

That

this

was the

p. 64.

original significance of circum-

seems to follow very clearly from the passage of.Sanchuniathou

which says that after a famine and a pestilence, Cronos first sacrificed his only son, and then circumcised himself and compelled his companions to do the like. See M. Lenormant, Origines de Vhistoire, 1880, When some important vol. i. p. 546 {Beginnings of History, 'p. 531).

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

S


258

THE FUTURE OF WORSHIP.

VI.

In many cases only the hides or the head, the horns or the entrails, of the slaughtered animal are sacrificed.

The extreme

of attenuation in this matter is realized

the Parsees, who,

instead of sacrificing

In

themselves to burning a few of his hairs.

manner, the Peruvians were

The Inferior for

(b.)

towards the

it

by committing

him

a

ram

sacEifice is

criminals, captives, slaves, or

animals, to the knife, as a substitute for the

more pre-

Thus Yahveh allowed Abraham

cious victims.

idol.^

the Superior.

Elsewhere the burden or cruelty of human lightened

like

with pulling a hair

satisfied

out of their eyebrows and blowing

by

an ox, confine

to offer

In Greece, likewise^

as a substitute for Isaac.

the slaughter of an animal was substituted in certain sacrifices for that of a

human

victim

;

but, in fidelity to

the ancient usage of the ritual tradition, a led

up

to the altar,

The Image for

(c.)

Wherever we

and then suffered

find

for instance, the statuettes

certain period of the year

offered to the deities

thrown into the Tiber

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;we may be sure the

a survival from ancient

is

human

sacrifices.

kind of attenuation has affected the

and in general every kind personage in Fiji

is

first

the Reality.

human figures

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

man was

to escape.^

at a

practice

The same

sacrifice of animals,

of offering

which involved the

smitten with disease, they circumcise, not the

invalid, but his son or

some young man who volunteers

to

the operation. 1

A. Eeville, Hibbert Lectures, 1884,

2

A. Maury, Religions de la Grice antique,

P-

219. vol.

ii.

p. 105.

submit

to


THE FUTURE OF "WORSHIP.

VI.

worshipper in considerable

loss.

259

Thus, amongst the

Greeks, worshippers too poor to sacrifice animals confined

themselves to offering paste or wooden

The same

idea re-appears in the

effigies of

wax or metal

them.^

"ex-votos,"

representing diseased members, suspended round the

who have

chapels of saints or madonnas

working miracles.

a reputation for

Tavernier noted the same usage in

India.2

This form of substitution

by the popular The the original.

fostered

is

belief that a portrait is equivalent to

Egyptians went so far as to believe that the double of the food painted for the benefit of the deceased on the walls of the tombs, would reproduce itself indefinitely in the other world, as long as

tinued here.

copy and the

It

was

this

its

representation con-

same confusion between the

original, manifested in connection

with

another order of ideas, that gave birth to the practice of destroying or burying the image of a

man

as a

means

of

compassing his death.

By

another step forward,

it

may come

that the sacrifice itself can be replaced

tomime.

be supposed

to

by a simple pan-

'The Semites were often satisfied with passing

their victims

through or between the flames, and the

same usage

found amongst the Malagassy, the ancient

is

We

Mexicans, the Malays, and the Burmese. careful,

however, to inquire whether this

times be a form

water, and nothing more '

may

of purification, like that of ;

for

not some-

baptism by

amongst savages and in

A. Maury, Religions de la Grhce antique,

vol.

See Revue des traditions populaires, 1889,

vol. iv. p. 20.

ii.

pp. 95, 96, 100,

101. 2

s2

must be


260

THE FUTURE OF "WORSHIP.

VI.

the lower strata of civilized peoples the same practice

In the sixteenth

often expresses widely different ideas.

century, for instance, there were certain parts of Scotr

land in which, as soon as a child was brought baptism,

it

was swung

home from

three or four times over a flame,

with the words, " Let the flame, consume thee now or never." ^ If the intention is all that signifies, it is not unnatural

for the deity to be satisfied with the bare beginning of

We

thei

remember how Yahveh held Abraham's arm at the moment when the knife was already raised to strike Isaac, saying, "Lay not thy hand upon the sacrifice.

child,

.

.

all

now

.

know

that thou fearest

God"

(Gen,

It is interesting to observe that analogous

xxii. 12).

traditions arose

was

I

amongst the Greeks and Chinese.

said that at

Lacedemon the

oracle

It

had required

the sacrifice of Helen to put an end to a plague, but at the

moment when

the sacrificer raised the

Eagle suddenly snatched the

Emperor Tang

it

from his hand.^

steel,

an

In China

offered himself as a voluntary victim

put an end to a drought ; but as he was preparing for

to

the consummation of the

In

rain.3

ceremony the

is

human

all

these

sacrifice,

cases,

heaven sent abundant

the consummation of the

averted only by an event independent of will; but such precedents would' be inter-

preted as manifest signs that the deity no longer required

human ^ ii.

J.

sacrifices,

Brand, Observations on Popular Antiquities, Londoij, 1841, vol,

p. 48. 2

Maury, Religions de

'

A. Reville, La Religion chinoise,

la Grece antique, vol. vol.

i.

p.

ii.

pp. 104 sq.

207.


VI..

Even

the representation, or

preliminaries,

performance of

tlie

might thus become superfluous

The mental sac"rifices life

261

THE FUTURE OP WORSHIP.

of the

Brahman who

in the heart of the forest, are

more

tlie

formalities.

leads a solitaryefficacious

than

the most sacred sacrificial rites of external worship.

^^® penetration

Moral transformation of

religion

by morals

tends to modify the idea of sacrifice pro-

sacrifice,

n

.p

T,

loundly,

offerings to the Deity. fice," the

of

not completely to suppress all " I desire mercy and not sacri-

prophet Hosea makes the Eternal say: *'and

the knowledge of God, more than burnt offerings."^ that ancient country, China, of the whole cultus

and

is

—^where

In

sacrifice is the basis

offered everywhere,

where

the very professors never open their courses without

and

deceased philosophers Confucius wrote, twenty-three centuries ago, " The per-

offering fruits

lentils to the

fume comes not from the grain [of the sacrifice]. It is purity and virtue that make it." ^ In India, where the priestly schools teach that sacrifice makes man the equal, if

not the superior, of the Gods, the sacred

Mahabharata includes such maxims as

this

:

poem of the " The obla-

tion to Agni, the life in the forest, emaciation of the

body,

all

unspotted." It

is

may be but

these

in vain unless the

mind be

2

not surprising, then, that the sacrifice of pro-

pitiation has all religions.

but disappeared from the universalist

Judaism, in

its

synagogues,

realizing

the

ecclesiastical ideal of the ancient prophets, has dispensed

10—17, and Matthew

1

Hosea

2

Girard de Rialle, MytJiologie compares, p. 214.

*

Mahabharata,

vi. 6.

Cf. Isaiah

Hi.

i.

(Vana-parvu), 13446.

v. 23, 24.


262

VI.

with

it,

of the

THE FUTURE OF -WORSHIP.

at least in theory, ever since the destruction

Buddhism,

Temple.

Christianity

Islam

and-

But popular usages have The hitherto been too strong for the reforming spirit. infiltration of Hindu superstition has opened Buddhism

have

officially

rejected

it.

to oblations in honour of the Master

who preached

Islam has been forced to tolerate

uselessness of sacrifices.

the continuance of bloody funeral

sacrifices.

forty years ago, at the funeral of

Mehemet

of Egypt,

eighty buffaloes were

It is to be noted that the sacrifices as expiatory,

slain at

Mussulmans

Thus about Yiceroy

Ali,

the tomb.^

interpret these

and believe that they blot out the

venial sins of the dead;

and

it is

in this

same

acceptation that sacrifice has been maintained, or will re-introduced,

Eoman Church

the

into Christianity;

for

we

special

you

if

find the

encouraging the custom of giving alms,

creating pious foundations, and celebrating masses, as

a

set-off against sins.

how

On

the other hand,

we

note

the longing for purification, so widely spread in

the last days of Paganism, the belief that sacrifice alone could blot out transgressions, and the conviction that, the efficacity of the sacrifice must be proportional to the importance of the victim, in combination with the character impressed On the Messianic hopes

by the

post-

exilian prophets, begot the belief that- nothing short of

the voluntary sacrifice of a of fallen humanity.

dogma ^

God

could affect the salvation

Thus was formed the Christian

of the vicarious expiation

on the Cross.

Ignace Goldziher, Revue de I'histoire des religions, vol.

The same thing took

place

more recently

x.

And p.

351.

at the funeral of Ismail Pasha.

See the Journal des debuts for Jan. 20th, 1892.


THE FUTURE OF WORSHIP.

VI.

when

tte celebration of the Lord's Supper

by Jesus

instituted

over

263"

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;a

symbol

in reminiscence of the Jewish, Pass-

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;received a mystic

haps be traced back

to

interpretation,

which may per-

the rites of the Greek Mysteries,

the ancient institution of sacrifice was re-incorporated in the Catholic worship under the form of a sacrament.^

We

know how

the Eeformation proscribed offerings

for the redemption of sins together with the trade in

indulgences;

and how, in due

tantism has rejected the

dogma

course, liberal Protes-

of expiation

through the

blood of Christ, and retained the Lord's Supper only as a commemorative celebration.

has arisen in

An

progressive Judaism

Brahmanism, where repentance only means of redeeming

way

and in reformed

declared to be the

is

trespasses,

the largest sense the only If

analogous movement

and good works in

of pleasing the deity.^

amongst such communities incense

and there on the

still

altar, or flowers decorate

certain anniversaries,

it is

smokes here

the temple on

no longer in the vain hope

of

gratifying the senses of the Deity, but to find vent for that aesthetic feeling which

when

is

never more in place than

associated with the most exalted and inspiring

emotions of the religious

human

communions,

spirit of sacrifice,

heart.

Within

if sacrifice

as without the

has disappeared, the

henceforth anchored in

human

nature,

has become identified with obedience to duty and devoAbnegation has ceased to be tion to every just cause. asceticism, 1

and has become emancipation from the tyranny

Edwin Hatch, HibheH

Lectures, 1888, pp.

300

sq.

2 Compare Goblet d' Alviella,- Contemporary Evolution of ReNgioits Thought in England, America and India, London, 1885, passim.


264

THE rUTTTRE OF WORSHIP.'

VI.

Finally, the generosity whicli enlarges

of tte passions.

the resources of education and beneficence,

work, for us

toil for

a pious

Power which makes

co-operates with that

it

is still

progress in the spirit of enlightenment and

love.

The evolution ofsymboHsm.

sentiments,

Subjective symbols, that objects still

in our social

which Serve

â&#x20AC;˘

to

is to

say acts or

embody our inward

find daily application in our religious as

Those only have disappeared which

life.

were inconsistent with the dignity serious view of life;

man

of

or with a

and therefore those which now

survive bid fair to endure as long as religion seeks to find

external,

Indeed,

man

and,

above

them

expression.

them

it

were

his

to the Deity, Jbut also

and above

to himself,

make

all to

communicate

.

to his fellows.

And aim

collective

avails himself of them, not only to

inmost feelings palpable as to realize

all,

so

too with

at representing

those

symbols which

figurative

a divinity or his attributes.

process of slowly developed selection has

A

more and more

thrown into the background such images as wound morality, humanity, or even good taste.

And

as for those

which are open to no such objection, their maintenance depends less upon the nature of the. symbols than upon the permanence of the sentiments to which they give expression. The divine omniscience may be represented by an eye surrounded by a glory, and Providence by a hand issuing from a cloud, as long as men continue to attribute to the Deity the

guidance of the

affairs

of

knowledge and providential this world-.

And

even a

theriomorphic symbol, like that of the serpent biting

its

â&#x20AC;˘


Yl.

own

tail,

THE FUTURE OP WORSHIP.

265

need not be banished as long as we

feel

any

need of giving a sensible form to our conception of the and of JEternity. So too with the symbols, or

Infinite

rather the idiograms

drawn from the

serve to represent the

name

Scriptures, that

of the Deity, such as the

sacred Tetragram of the Hebrews, the Alpha and of Primitive

And

all

Christianity,

this applies still

the

more

AUM

of

Omega

the Hindus.

to the emblems which

have come to typify the various forms of worship, such as the Cross of the Christians, the Crescent of Islam, the

Wheel of the Buddhist,

to say nothing of that combination

of the Cross and the Crescent with the

mans and the

trident of the Qivaites,

AUM of the Brah-

which some Indian

Brahmoists have inscribed on the frontage of their temples to signify their syncretistic attitude towards the chief cults of their country.^ Imitative symbols,

Imitative symbols have perhaps xaore important place than

any

filled

a

others, for

while transforming worship into a veritable dramatic representation of the

life of

the Beity, they also satisfy

that longing for union with the Deity Oew^

(oyÂŤo/coo-t? Tftj

which

is

by

assimilation

an essential factor in worship.

I have given examples of these practices, which originally implied a naturalistic

conception of the uni-

verse, surviving in the popular traditions

The scope of imitafurther enlarged when anthropo-

the religious rites of our tive symbols

was

still

own times.

morphism reached the point sentiments, but the features of 1

Cf. P. C.

and even in

of ascribing not only the

man

to the deities.

These

Mozoomdar, The Life and Teachings of Keshuh Ohundev

Sen, Calcutta, 1887,

p.

501.


266

THE FUa^UEE OF WORSHIP.

VI.

imitative symbols then developed into a mythology in

a true

action,

art

scenic

had risen high enough

sesthetic

to

where

especially

presentation,

be capable of combining

enjoyment with the satisfaction of religious

On

sentiment.

the other hand,

when

the anthropo-

morphic character under which the gods were represented

began

a

to raise

blush,

came

their adventures

regarded more and more as having an allegorical

Here

cance.

to

be

signifi-

again, however, the imitative symbolism

was modified in two parallel directions, the one esoteric and the other exoteric or popular.

or mystic,

The

movements gave rise to the mysteries of Greece, in which the neophytes were put into communication with the superhuman powers by means of first

of these

ancient rites more or less discordant with the progress of thought

and conscience, but exalted, and,

transfigured,

by being made the

so to speak,

vehicles of

some

lofty

form of metaphysical or moral teaching.

The second movement secularized the legends of the gods more and more, until it culminated in the profane theatre.

This took place not only in Greece, but in

Persia, India,

and even Polynesia, where the corporation

of the Areoi put

upon the

stage.^

the.

mystic adventures of the gods

You know how

our

own

theatre rose

name

out of religious representations which bore the

Mysteries in the Middle Ages, and which are

of

still cele-

brated in certain parts of Germany, notably at Ober-

Ammergau. Finally, the imitative symbols, or rather the longing

for

communion by means ^

of

imitation

which

Eeville, Religions des peuples rion-civilises, vol.

ii.

lies

p. 85.

at


the bottom of

change

its

267

,THE PUTTJRE OF "WORSHIP;

VI.

forms of worship, shows a tendency to

all

character under pressure of moral ideas, and

to turn to another object than the material reproduction

of divine acts.

We

have seen that even such backward peoples as

the Hottentots perform dances in honour of the moon, in

which they imitate her movements.

When

the earth

trembles, the Caribees begin dancing because, as they

when our mother

say,

Many

too.

solstice, in

dances, surely

we ought

to dance

peoples perform ceremonies at the Winter

which they symbolize the death and resurrec-

tion of the sun; others, again, such as the Tartars and

the

Andaman

set

and

islanders, abstain

from work between sun-

In former times, there were places in

sunrise.

Germany, Denmark, and Belgium, where no one might drive a carriage for twelve days after the winter solstice.

The sun

rests, as

M. Gaidoz puts

wheel, must rest too.

and

Kuhn

us,

tell

In some

it

;

so his symbol, the

localities, as

Schwartz

the prohibition extended to other

kinds of work, such as spinning or carrying dung to the It

fields.

to

was

like a

Sabbath of twelve days.^

Nowhere, perhaps, has the sentiment which leads men imitate the celestial bodies been more naively ex-

pressed than in the prayer of an old Samoyed to the sun,

mentioned by Castrdn:

when you get up it is

;

I go to

"Oh

Jilibeambaertje, I get

up

bed when you go to bed." ^ But

the same thought, at a further stage of abstraction

and generalization, which re-appears in the Chinese theory 1

H. Gaidoz, Le dieu gaulois du

soleil et le syrnbolisme

de la roue,

Paris, 1886, p. 32. 2

Vorlesungen iiberdie Finmnche Mytholugie, St. Petersburg, 1853,

p. 16.

'


268 that

THE FTTTUEE OF WOESHIP.

VI.

man

ouglit to conduct himself methodically, accord-

ing to fixed rules, in order to imitate the ways whereby

heaven determines the movement of the

phenomena

of the earth.

*'

have put immortal souls into

his turn, "that the gods

human

and the

stars

I believe," says Cicero in

may

bodies that beings

exist

.... who

shall

contemplate the order of the heavenly things, and imitate

Truly

it

in the regulated constancy of their lives."

is

a far cry from the astronomical dances of the Hotten-

"Be

tots to the sublime precept- of Leviticus:

for I the Eternal,

found saying

your God,

of Plato

:

nothing resembles him

"

am

God

^

it

ye holy,

;

holy " or to the pro-

is

supremely

just,

and

more than whosoever of us

But

-becomes just to the uttermost degree." ^ debasing Greek philosophy or Israelitish

am

I

faith, if I

that iu this matter both alike are attached,

not

show

by an unin-

terrupted chaia of intellectual and religious links, to the first

seeks

naive stammerings of the

communion with

human

conscience as

it

its ideal.

It sometimes happens that symbols pass „ , ,. '^'^ SymDolism as anally of into fctishes or into formulae of conjuration. •'

-"^

.

gress

and

free

"iiuii^y-

ablution,

This

is

when

the

analogies

which they

Thus

express are taken for real relations.

which began by being a ceremony

and decency, a suitable prelude

of cleanliness

to enteriag into relations

with the great, or with the gods, subsequently became

an easily comprehensible symbol of purification, and often ended

And

by drawing

to itself

a supernatural

ia like inanner certain forms of sacrifice

virtue.

easily

explained on the notion that the gods feed upon the 1

De

Smectute, cap. xxi. § 77.

^

Thecetetus, § 85.


ofiFerings

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;became

supposed to be

269

THE FUTURE OF "WOESHIP.

Vi.

pure symbols when these gods were

satisfied

with the mere intention, and

finally passed into veritable sacraments,

with power

to.

regenerate the faithful and even to assure them immortality.

An

example

is

furnished by the sacrifice of

the bull in the mysteries of Mithra. opposite

phenomenon

is

witnessed

;

But more that

often the

is to say,

objects

once regarded as the actual body of the Deity, or acts

regarded as expressing a real relatidn with the gods, gradually acquire a purely symbolic character.

which was regarded

as a divine being

sians, and, for that matter,

now

by

all

fire,

the ancient Per-

the Indo-Europeans,

in the eyes of modem Parsees no

of the

by

Thus,

more than

supreme being, Ahura Mazda.

long deified the planets themselves

;

a

is

symbol

The Chaldeans

but afterwards they

simply regarded them as symbols of the great gods, and indeed a star became the generic sign of divinity in the cuneiform writing.

It is probable that, with the

Greeks as with the Egyptians, many of the gods were first

at

represented under the forms of certain animals.

The Egyptians were content with modifying their phybut siognomy by adding traits borrowed from man ;

the Greeks completely anthropomorphized their ancient

animal

deities,

while retaining the animal which origi-

nally represented

them

in the several religious centres^

as the companion or the symbol of the god.

This aptitude of symbols for modifying their meaning

without changing their shape, combined with the afi'ection always felt for traditional forms, is one of the chief causes of their longevity athwart tions.

It

would not be hard

all religious

revolu-

to establish a direct line


270

THE FUTURE OP WORSHIP.

TI.

of filiation between emblems stiU current in Eastern and Western religions and tbe most ancient motives of

Assyrian iconography; for example, the aureole as a

symbol of

celestial

Greeks, which

glory.

is also

The thunderbolt

employed to this very day in the

ritual all over the Buddhistic East,

form of the

dordj,

of the

may be

under the well-known

traced in both forms alike to

the double trident which appears in the hands of the

storm-god in the sculptures of the Mesopotamian palaces.

The Phoenix,

before

representing the resurrection on

was a symbol of apotheosis on the imperial medals of pagan Eome ; and in yet more ancient times, it had served the Egyptians as an emblem of the Christian sarcophagi,

annual re-birth of the sun.

The almost

spectacle is not unfamiliar of religions borrowing all

their

symbolic images from the forms of

worship which they profess to combat or replace.

When

the Persians had established themselves in Mesopotamia,

they adapted the Chaldean iconography to the figurative

own beliefs, and

was from pagan art that the Christianity of the Catacombs drew the greater part of its allegorical subjects. In Buddhism, representation of their

it

the rites successively engrafted upon the doctrine of the

Buddha borrowed

their material

from the previous forms

of worship in India, particularly those of the sun, though

of course a

new

signification

was given

to them.'^

We may note, in this connection, that symbolismâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;that power of attaching a new meaning to any given image on the one hand aids the transition from is to

say, the

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

1

Cf. Goblet D'Alviella,

pp. 332 sqq,

La

Migration des symboles, Paris, 1891^


THE PUTTJEB OF "WORSHIP.

TI.

271

the traditional conception to a higher one, and on the other hand facilitates the co-existence, under a

form of worship,

of the widest diversity of beliefs.

advantage of symbolism religions as

common

is

This

especially perceptible in such

Brahmanism, Buddhism, and even Judaism,

and a certain number of Christian communities which have no central authority to define their dogmas and interpret their

external forms

men's minds

;

liturgies.

may

as

In such

cases, respect for

emancipation of

the

actually aid

M. Anatole Leroy-Beaulieu has shown

in the instance of the

Old Believers, .in

his striking study

of religion in the empire of the Czars.^

Indeed,

when

unity simply consists in respectiug an external form, there

is

nothing to prevent one section of the faithful

preserving the full sacramental value of a others accept

it

iu a purely symbolic sense,

any meaning that is

the natural

that

is

spirit

ally,

suits

them

to the symbol.

alike of mysticism

to say, of the

rite,

and

whilst

attribute

Symbolism

and of free inquiry

two great foes which the orthodox

has always had to fear within the Churches them-

selves.

We

The

evolutiou of the pries

00

have seen that when the distinction

between the priest and the sorcerer had been

.

gg^a^|j]^|gj^g(j^

^j^e

latter,

in his

capacity

of

exorcist, still exercised his functions, first at the side of

the priest, and then below him, since the latter had the

monopoly of the

relations

higher

with the

deities.

Finally, the priest expelled the sorcerer from the

official

assuming one

of his

cultus

altogether, while himself

rival's chief functions, 1

namely, exOrcism.

L' Empire des Tzars, vol.

iii.

p.

336.


272

VI.

THE FUTURE OF WORSHIP".

It is easy to understand that in primitive societies,

where the family

is

the property of

its

head, the latter

prays and sacrifices to assure the prosperity of his Such, at

belongings. in which

we

first

least,

is

the religious condition

find the patriarchal communities of the

The

Indo-Europeans, the Hebrews, and the Chinese.

same system prevails

to this

day amongst the Malagassy,

the Khonds, the Ostyaks,- and even the Samoans. natural extension of this principle,

and subsequently

tribe,

community

own

his

it is

By a

the chief of the

of the nation, -who acts for the

in approaching the gods,

whether he invokes

special deities, as with certain Negroes, or ad-

dresses the general gods of his people, as in Polynesia.

This

is

the origin of the sacrificing kings, regarded as

religious as well as civil

find

and military

chiefs,

amongst the ancient Chinese, Chaldeans, Egyptians,

Assyrians, Persians, and on a smaller scale

Mangaians, the It

whom we

among

the

New Zealanders, the Chinuks, and others.

was probably the same with

the-

Greeks down

to

Homeric times; and we know that when the Eomans abolished royalty, they stUl maintained a special functionary, bearing the

name

of rex sacrorum, with a view

to the celebration of certain sacrifices.

Such an organization may result in a complete theocracy,

if

the religious interest secures the first place. This

seems to have happened in ancient Peru, and

to

a certain

extent in Assyria and Egypt; but the multiplication of

the duties of government on the one hand, and the grow-

ing complexity of rites on the other, often induced the chief to delegate his sacerdotal functions.

tion

was

at first temporary, as

This delega-

when Numa appointed

the


'

VI.

273

THE FUTURE OF WORSHIP.

Amongst

flamens as his substitutes during his absence.

the Blantyres of Western Africa, "if the chief

home, his wife will act; and

is

from

both are absent, his

if

younger brother." ^ This temporary delegation tends to become permanent, in yirtue of the prestige which surrounds

The

its recipients.

chiefs relieve themselves altogether of their religious

functions, in favour of chaplains retained about their

persons, or priests set over the chief sanctuaries.

the sacerdotal

office,

Thus

like that of the sorcerer, tends to

become a special profession. Among the Hindus, the Brahmanic families seem to have been constituted, in the

first instance,

under petty

them with the conduct Israelites,

local rajahs,

of divine service.^

who entrusted Amongst the

every head of a family was originally a cohen ;

but influential

men

gradually took private chaplains into

their service to preside over their domestic sanctuaries,

as

we

learn from the history of

At

Establish-

overthrow of theocracies,

Micah (Judges

these priests

first,

xvii.).

were no more than

delegates or functionaries, as

we

see clearly

enough in China, where the functions

of

public worship are assigned to the various administrative officers of

the empire

;

and in

classical antiquity,

where

the principal priests were sometimes directly elected by the people, just like other magistrates.

Meanwhile, as

the sacerdotal class grew in power and importance,

tended

to close itself as

drawing in recruits from

outside, as in the case of the

Druidical colleges, or by making ^

See H. Spencer, Ecclesiastical

2

Cf.

Manu,

xii.

it

an independent order, either by

46.

T

itself hereditary, like

Institutions, p. 729,


274

THE PUTTJEE OF WORSHIP.

VI.

In Eussia, we have seen the

the Brahmans and Leyites.

actual establishment of a sacerdotal tribe in the heart of Christianity within

modern

times.

clergy, or parish priesthood, tory,

whom

on

I refer to the white

whom

marriage

is

obliga-

the force of circumstances has erected into a

genuine hereditary

caste,

of the Eussian Church,

Naturally enough,

supplying the whole personnel

from father

when once

to son.^

the clergy have become

independent, they tend to become supreme in the State.

With

they centralize themselves and group

this view,

themselves in a hierarchy, at the head of which stands the high-priest

;

as at Jerusalem after the restoration of

the Temple, or at Thebes under the degenerate descendants of Eameses.

And, again, the members

hood propagate the

of the priest-

belief that the faithful require their

mediation in addressing the gods, that they alone are commissioned to distribute the divine favours, with authority to

bind and

to loose in the

name

and therefore that they form a

of the

class of

Supreme Power,

beings superior to

the rest of humanity, and clothed with a portion of the

divine authority.

and public

form of theocracy is

Finally, the whole direction of private

affairs passes into their hands, is

developed.

Under

and

so a second

this regime,

God

supposed to govern through the agency of his min-

isters,

whether the

latter

assume direct power, as in

ancient Ethiopia, and quite recently in the States of the

Church, or exercise gates,

the

as in the

it

through the medium

Japan

of the

Mikado, the Thibet of

Grand Lama, or the Paraguay

note that the clergy 1

may

of lay dele-

of the Jesuits.

And

exercise this universal rule

Leroy Beaulieu, L'Empire des Tzars,

vol.

iii.

pp.

260 sqq.


VI.

THE FUTURE OF WORSHIP.

275

Without even organizing themselves in a rigorous hierarehy; witness the Brahmans, who have no ecclesiastical centralization, but none the less have exercised, on the bare prestige of their hereditary functions, an authority without example in the ecclesiastical history of the world.

When

once the theocracy has succeeded in acquiring

the civil power,

it only remains for it to take in hand the education of the successive generations, and it would then seem to be raised above all risk of overthrow save

by a shock from

And

outside.

yet

it

is

evident that

such a regime cannot be prolonged indefinitely. will always be independent spirits

who

There

challenge some

dogma, or pline;

at any rate canvass some point of disciand they will wake a more or less emphatic

response in the nation, in proportion to the correspond-

ence of their views with the intellectual and moral wants of the time.

Little

by

this opposition to the pre-

little,

tensions of the spiritual authority on the field of will

grow

and

this vindication in its turn will

into a vindication of the right of free inquiry,

long and bloody struggles of the union of

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

Church and

end

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;perhaps

State.

But one consequence

and State

after

in bringing about the rupture

Doubtless dogmatic intolerance survives rance.

dogma

civil intole-

of the separation of

Church

will be, that the faithful will tend to group

themselves in ever more numerous and ever ecclesiastical associations.

And

less stable

this again will lead,

on

the one hand, to a stronger affirmation of the rights of free inquiry, and, on the other hand, to a

reduction of the authority of the priest. is

now

no more than a chosen

t2

officer of

still

further

In principle he the community


276

VI.

lie loses

THE FUTUBE OF -WORSHIP.

his supernatural authority,

and henceforth he

confines himself to the functions of the religious and "

moral educator. The

astorate

Thus

restricted, there is

why the

no reason

under the

pastoral office should not continue to exist

conditions of modern

uidefinitely.

^^^ ^'

lecturers,

,

r,

.

^

.

.

As long

.

.

as religious societies

remain, they will need presidents, secretaries,

and administrators

of every kind.

Nay,

seems

it

likely that the functions of the minister will increase in real importance, in proportion as

he concentrates himself

on his mission of moral educator, and as that mission assumes a more and more important place amongst the practical objects of religious association.

We

must

note,

common with the prophet than with the priest and the prophet may be genealogically traced to the diviner or seer, who ia his however, that the minister has more in ;

Thus the sordescendant, upon the priest

turn descends from the primitive sorcerer. cerer avenges himself, in his

who

once expelled him

;

but the really important point in

this reversal of the tables

is,

that

it

heralds the triumph

by the moral sentiment, sacerdotal mediation between the

of private inspiration fructified

over the theory of faithful

and the Deity.

To sum up. The whole development of worship

^that is

— may be characterized

to say, of acts of propitiation

follows:

at first, the deities

faithful with a selfish object,

demand the worship

as

of the

and the faithful render

it

with a similar purpose; gradually, duties towards our neighbours introduce themselves amongst the obligations of religion, side

by

side with duties towards the gods ;


THE FUTURE OF WORSHIP.

VI.

and

277

these two orders of ideas melt into one

finally,

another, under the influence of the conception that " the service of

humanity "

the best,

if

follow that

all

is

not the only,

way

of

serving the Deity. Is

Does

worsM

it

,â&#x20AC;˘

t

t

destmed ing,

worship, as a special

utterance of the relations of

destined to disappear?

-,

,

to disappear

man

to God, is

mi

n ?

There are not want-

even amongst Theists, generous

spirits

who

allow a

natural reaction against the abuses of religious formalism to

hurry them into the

belief in the inevitable, if not

all religious practices. The founders movement have already made a practical establish their bond of communion solely on

speedy, extinction of of the Ethical

attempt to

the identity of their humanitarian and progressive aspira-

One

tions.

of the most authoritative exponents of this

system in England, Dr. Stanton Coit, writes as follows " We believe that by declaring devotion to the good of the

world to be the bond, and the whole bond,

we

union,

shall ultimately induce

qualifications for

men

of religious

remove

all

other

membership in the Churches ; and

that,

to

men who are now outside of all religious or who chafe under the dogmatic restraint of

immediately, fellowship,

the Church, will form themselves into societies for the

spread of goodness."^

words

:

And he

adds these enthusiastic

" This idea of forming societies in devotion to

good character and right conduct, we believe stands equal in dignity and power with Christ's conception of a King-

dom

of

God on

earth,

and that

the freshness and vigour of a 1

T7ie Ethical

pp. 538, 539.

Movement

defined, in

it

comes to-day with

new

all

social revelation, for

Religiom Systems of the World,


278

THE PUTtTRE OF WORSHIP.

VI.

wHcli, ho-wever, the ages of Christian development have

been preparing men's hearts and

intellects."

Surely such associations can render signal service to the ideas of practical toleration and devotion to man.

But

considerable as their action on our feelings and our

manners may become, I cannot believe that they succeed in satisfying the organ. a

fit

all

the wants of which worship

It is not only

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

as has

children and the lower classes,

by

religion

who

is

been maintained in

of aristocratic and masculine arrogance

being elevated

will

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;women,

will feel the need of

beyond the narrow it

much

life

busied with the affairs of daily

limits of a

only minds too

frivolous or material existence, nor is

to be able to

culture, that experience this same Without an appeal to the resources of poetry, music, painting, and of all the combinations of art which

attain to

any higher

demand.

unite in worship to symbolize the aesthetic aspects of the ideal,

even the most cultured of

a void, and

must

men must be

sensible of

feel himself paralyzed in his

attempt

to express his aspirations towards the infinite

and the

absolute.

I doubt whether religious progress will take the form

newly created

of a collective entry into

religious asso-

ciations with a theology in harmony with the require-

ments

of science,

and a cultus reduced

rational manifestations.

tion of the old forms,

When we we

are

to its purely

think of the attrac-

more inclined

to believe

by the gradual thought within the bosom of existing at least in such of them as lend them-

that religious progress will be achieved

emancipation of

communions, or

selves to a gradual modification of their beliefs.


VI.

THE FUTURE OF WOESHIP.

279

There exist in most of the Churclies three those

who

classes:

accept the dogmas and the ceremonies in the

which they have been handed down to them who accept them through force of habit, through

spirit in

;

those

a feeling of respect, through a vague desire to call down the Divine sanction on the most solemn acts of life, or simply through an idea of setting a good example to

who have

others; and, finally, those

meaning of even in ment.

grew,

ecclesiastical matters,

This

though

religious questions,

for improve-

has long been liberalizing religion,

trials for heresy,

of intolerance, or simply to

by the longing

has too often been weeded out as fast as

it

by

last class

seen into the real

aad who are pursued,

dogmatic

by the compulsory

subscription

In many communions, liberty

articles.

thought now enjoys a

it

by the choking atmosphere

tacit toleration

;

only

let it

of

become

a formally recognized right, and there will be nothing to

prevent the union of respect for ancient forms with the

development of new for these ancient

ideas.

'Nay,

more

symbols will be

all

:

the respect

felt

the more sincere

and unanimous when they have ceased to fetter free inquiry and have become historical monuments, venerable

by

and worthy of all preservation for the link which they have established between

their very antiquity,

the sake of

the aspirations of the present, and the beliefs, the senti-

ments, the enthusiasms, perhaps the dangers and the sufferings, of the generations that are past.

Here sym-

bolism culminates in syncretism. The

future of

the churches,

Why should ^f things in

the actual world

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

we

not look forward to a state

which the principal

Christianity,

religions of

Buddhism, Brahmanism,


280

THE FUTUEB OF 'WOESHIP.

VI.

Judaism, Confucianism, and Islam

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

stall regard each

other simply as different forms of worship in the bosom

and

apply to their religions dif" Our ferences the fine expression of a Eussian bishop of a single Church,

shall

:

confessional partitions do not

mount

as high as heaven" ?^

Doubtless such an ideal of religious peace and union

seems far distant

varied communions

and

we

good

all religions are

still

but amongst enlightened minds of

;

trace the if

growing thought that

they help us to live worthily,

even that they are all true in so far as they help us

to realize the presence of a higher

accordance with law, for the good of

Power working, in the universe. The

belief in the continuity of religious progress implies that

no Church possesses the absolute truth, and that the right to seek

by the

it

all

light of conscience

have

and of

Graft this idea upon the conviction of our inca-

reason.

pacity to represent the supreme Reality otherwise than

by symbols, and you that

all

rites

have a purely relative value, the only

measure of which gress of

In

human

will be driven to the conclusion

is

the service they render to the pro-

culture.

remarkable sign of the times has

this connection, a

recently appeared in London.

I refer to the lectures

organized by the South Place Ethical Society, in which

men

belonging

successively to tive religions.

to the

most divergent

expound the I

am

sects

were invited

chief points of their respec-

aware that their language must

have been influenced by the surrounding medium

making

all

allowances for that,

gestive that all of 1

them

is it

;

but

not curious and sug-

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;Jews, Parsees, and

Lcroy Beaulieu, L'Empire des Tzars,

vol.

iii.

Positivists,

p.

583.


VI.

THE FTTTURE OF WORSHIP.

281

as well as Baptists, Methodists, Independents, Anglicans,

and Unitarians

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;agreed

in proclaiming the existence of a

great Church above

who do the human all

their race.

aU denominations, a communion of duty and work for the advancement of " The life and work of Baptists," said

the Eev. John Clifford, President of the Baptist Union, " is a valuable part of British Christianity, only so far as it

has become one of the successive steps in which the

human

spirit

has been forced onward by the immanent

logic of the religious life in its organic

Service to humanity, in

work, I

higher ranges of

life

and

the supreme test of the worth of Churches." ^

is

am

its

development.

convinced that this point of view will gain more

and more adherents, especially in the bosom

of the Pro-

As

determined

testant Churches.^

for the sects that are

1

Religious Systems of the World, p. 428.

"

As

these sheets are passing through the press, I have received a

from a Committee formed to organize a Central Congress of Eeligions at Chicago in 1893 during the Exhibition, side by side with the sectarian gatherings which are sure to be arranged. " Now that the nations are being brought into closer and friendlier relations," it circular

runs, " the time is apparently ripe for

ments of

religious fraternity

new manifestations and

develop-

Convinced that of a truth God

is

no respecter of persons, but that in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness is accepted of Him, we affectionately invite the representatives of

all faiths to

aid us in presenting to the world, at

the Exhibition of 1893, the religious harmonies and unities of humanity, and also in showing forth the moral and spiritual agencies which are The remarkable thing about this at the root of human progress." circular

is,

that

it is

signed by sixteen ministers representing

all

the

confessions of the United States, from a Catholic Archbishop (Mgr. P. A. Eeehan) and an Episcopalian Bishop (the Et. Kev. W. E. McLaren) (the Kev. Jenkin Lloyd to a Unitarian of the advanced Western School the President Hirsch),â&#x20AC;&#x201D; E. S. Kev. (the Eabbi Jewish a and Jones)

being a Presbyterian (the Kev. J. H. Barrows).


282

THE FUTURE OE "WORSHIP.

VI.

to cling to the letter of their traditional formulse, they will see their ranks thinned

who wish

tion of all

to

more and more by the

And

advance with the age.

these latter, in their turn, end

by uniting on the

their larger conception of the Deity

defecwill

basis of

and his action on the

universe, or will they simply go to swell the ranks of

who have lost all interest in religious and in many cases failed to replace them by any

the indifferent, questions,

other interests of an exalted or wide-reaching type ? This

question

the more worth investigation, because

is all

it

presents itself once more in connection with the masses of

the people,

who

are every day

more completely estranged

from the religious movement in the great industrial centres of Europe.

cannot neglect

gion

itself

when

This

is

cities

and the

a factor which

we

investigating the prospects of reli-

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;not merely

this or that

form of worship

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;in

the society of the near future. Eeli<non and the people,

C)ur

working

They

j-eligiou.

For they reproach their condition,

it

classcs are not indifferent to

are positively hostile to

it.

with having done nothing to better

with having entered into an alliance

with the rich and strong, and finally with having drawn to

off

the problematic

attention

the

which ought

life that

now

is.

solutions to

of a future

life

the

be directed to the reform of

This hostility has been specially

accentuated since Socialism rose to offer the masses a

new is

ideal in

which material amelioration of

combined with the

harmony and

justice.

their lot

satisfaction of the sentiments of

Yerily, the Churches have

enough

to do to clear themselves of the reproach thus levelled

against them.

The boast

that Eeligion is the

synonym


THE rUTURE OF WORSHIP.

VI.

of Socialism, if Socialism tlie

individual

by

tlie

means replacing

283

tlie

interest of

interest of society as the goal of all

our action, stands in dire need of such, illustration as

may

receive from the part which all Christian

munities are

now

it

com-

rousing themselves to take in social

movements.

And, on the other side, I do not hesitate to add that Socialism will become religious or will cease to be. I mean, that

to achieve

borrow from Eeligion

enduring results its

it

to

best elements of altruism and

abnegation, together with the idea of a

Power making

wiU have

for the material

superhuman

and moral progress of

humanity.

Pure science can but establish the presence of a force life upon the earth. It is dumb when

tending to develop

we

ask

if this

progressive

an increase of the welfare

life is

destined to culminate in

of individuals.

Nay,

its

great

law of the struggle for existence seems rather to

dis-

courage the hope of general well-being and universal

harmony which

is

Doubtless one

the key-stone of the Socialist ideal.

may

conceive a society of the higher

peoples in the bosom of the

themselves from the general

human

race withdrawing

conflict, or rather

uniting to

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

wage that conflict with the rest of nature, and by means of a wise direction of social forces, combined with the systematic limitation of the number of births banishing from their midst the scourges of war and penury.

But, in the

first place, to realize this

Utopia,

which is not without its grandeur, what lever have the Surely not the harmony State-Socialists to reckon on ? of individual interests, for they proclaim the impotence


284

THE FTJTUEE OF WOESHIP.

VI.

of individualism

and

sense of duty ?

But, to say nothing of their depriving

that sentiment of

call

on us to renounce

its religious basis,

Is

it.

it

the

they have generally

adopted materialistic explanations of the universe, which

undermine the foundations

logically tend to

moral

of

obligation and therefore the very conception of duty,

human

destroying the idea of The need

I

of

reveals,

^prehensive'

f^^^'i^

"^"d'^V^T

and

liberty

do uot deny that

it

responsibility.

reason which

is

and which alone can

by

reveal, the dif'

kinds of duty resulting from men's

necessary relations with each other ; but even

interest,

should science succeed in showing that the true good of the individual invariably coincides with the requirements of the general good,

it

will

have

still

to find the

means

of enforcing respect for this principle upon those

continue to think otherwise, or

immediate

satisfaction, or

mastering force of

The need that of

are seduced

the Positivist

humanity

by the

over-

some stronger control than

instincts or longings is

the founder of

school

so

evident, that

had recourse

to

to suppress the revolt of individual

but this amounts to an indirect return to the

interest;

religious idea,

instead of

Spencer

deliberately prefer

passions.

of appealing to

mere

the love of

human

who

who

who

which in Comte's system takes Humanity its object. And, as Mr. Herbert

Deity for

has' well

tively evanescent

remarked, "to suppose that this

form of existence ought

to

rela-

occupy

our minds so exclusively as to leave no space for a consciousness of that Ultimate Existence of which is

but one form out of multitudes

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; an

it

Ultimate Exist--

ence which was manifested in infinitely varied ways


285

THE FUTURE OF WORSHIP.

VI.

before humanity arose, and will be manifested in nitely varied other

seems very strange

be,

The

infi-

ways when bumanity has ceased

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

to me, indeed, amazing."

to

^

love of humanity can doubtless inspire noble and

fruitful devotion

but does

;

it

not lose

its

rational basis

when it rests solely upon certain specific resemblances of human beings one to another ? And does it not wantonly fling away its most powerful means of action, when it assigns the reign of justice and of general happiness as the goal of human effort, but at the same time refuses to

enwrap

this noble purpose in the larger desire

with the Power that rules the universe? Thus Comtism has succeeded in gathering a few select

to co-operate

groups,

and earning the sympathy

minds ; but

of

all

religious influence, in the sense

its

generous

which

it

attaches to the term, does not exist as far as the masses

are concerned. Growth

Again,

of

pessimism,

j.^^

it is

a mere illusion to suppose that

general spread of a certain degree of

comfort, or even the suppression of ties

would be enough

of humanity.

all social inequali-

to satisfy the legitimate aspirations

However

fully

you secure

necessaries and even the enjoyments of

to life,

man

the

his

cup

by the disease that lies in wait for him at every turn, by the death that prematurely snatches from him those he loves, by the old age which throws an ever-darkening shadow over his path, not to speak of the eternal longing which will always be embittered, if only

^

In the controversy with Mr. F. Harrison, re-published as The Nature p. 95 ; cf. Study of Sociology,

and Reality of Religion, New York, 1885, p. 312.


286

THE FTTTURE OF "WORSHIP.

VI.

ever derelops his wants in advance of his means of satisfying them,

and

and the misery

of

constitutes at once the grandeur

human

And

nature.

suppose

we

treated this infinite susceptibility to further desires as

a disease, and succeeded in killing the germs of it in our hearts, would not this contracting of our per-

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

sonality result in diminished powers of reaction against

the fatalities of nature, in loss of the chief joys of

and ultimately in a If pessimism

full career of pessimistic reaction ?

dominates Eastern society,

because the lot of

man

is

in comparison with our it is

life,

intolerable there

own

that

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

it

not

is

for it is only

appears to be so;

it

because centuries of political despotism and moral

relaxation have robbed the Orientals of elasticity of will. If the same disease has

begun

to attack our "Western

society in the full swing of wealth

and knowledge,

it is

in large measure because the significance of the individual

has been disputed and belittled by the prevalence of a philosophy that denies to

man

the very possibility of

aiming at freedom.

What are we

to expect, then, if this purely mechanical

conception of the universe should serve as a type for the whole organization of social or coUectivist ideals ?

longer confine spirits

with

its

petition

head

all

found

to

but

it

the communist

pessimism will no

case,

attacks to the delicate and super-refined

whom want

life;

In that

life after

of

any higher

interest has disgusted

will invade the masses.

and personal

initiative, that

The

lating motives

it

com-

scapegoat on whose

our social and economic sins are

have carried with

spirit of

laid, will

be

into the desert all the stimu-

which give variety and worth

to existence.


THE FUTURE OF "WORSHIP.

VI.

And remember

that

we are

and generous pessimism

287

not speaking of an exalted

which

like that of tlie Stoics,

could at least take refuge in the impenetrable fortress of

human soul, nor yet of a tender and expansive pessimism like that of the Buddha, which after leading through the

enlightenment to renunciation leads back through love to action, but of a selfish and apathetic pessimism, on

which no light

hope will break and which no rays

of

warm. And this will continue some Boddhisattva shall come again to teach men that nought save all-embracing love can enable us to

of self-abnegation will

until

escape

the fetters

of

and that the true

personality,

path of self-annihilation

is

the path of self-deyotion

;

or

perhaps until a Jesus shall come, once more to reveal to

humanity the forgotten truth that there is a Father in heayen who cares for the moral amelioration suffering

of the world,

the

way

and that the best way

of brotherly love.

followed by a Danger of a leaotion.

new

Then

of serving

will the

Him

is

new dawn be

day.

Turning our attention to another quarter,

^^ ^^^

^^^ whether

future as to be free of

all

we

are so sure of the

apprehension of a return of

supernaturalism, perhaps under the forms most opposed to the present drift of

men's minds.

It is impossible to

deny that a mystic reaction has already the West.

Who

knows where

it

set in

throughout

will stop, should

it

find sustenance in a desperate rally of conservative interests,

or in the decisive bankruptcy of revolutionary It is easy to foresee that the classes in posses-

theories ? sion,

taken as a whole, will always prefer superstition to

spoliation

;

and

as for the masses,

who reckon on

their


288

VI.

full access to

THE FUTURE OF "WORSHIP.

power

for

removing

all inequalities

from

is there not room to fear that on the inevitable day which brings home to them the impotence of the

the earth,

State to realize their ideals, they into the

arms of the

first

wiU

fling themselves

religion that can

the mirage of some

new millennium ? Such

might well become

irresistible

should

it

a

ofiEer

them

movement

happen

to coin-

cide with one of those periods of stagnation or even of

retarded progress which occur from time to time in the

development or co-ordination

of scientific discovery.

Tet more. There is solidarity between all the branches of freedom. Every attempt to enslave man on the economic field must sooner or later re-act upon the realms In

of thought.

this connection

we

cannot too gravely

consider the warning addressed to the evolutionary spirit

by the great formulator

of evolutionism himself,

in spite of his optimistic tendencies,

his synthesis of the religious development

of further

progress under that

co-operation which called, there

when,

he thus concludes :

"If, instead

system of voluntary

constitutes industrialism properly so

should be carried far the system of pro-

duction and distribution under State-control, constituting

new form of compulsory co-operation, and ending in a new type of coercive government, the changes above indicated, determined as they are by individuality of a

character, will probably be arrested

and opposite changes

initiated."^ Brighter ^the^future"^ of religion, ^

Doubtless you wiU think I have painted a

dark picture ; but ^j^g

future,

when one

tries to

fathom

OHO must take account of the

Herbert Spencer, Ecclesiastical Institutions,

ยง

654

(p. 824).


THE FUTURE OF WORSHIP.

VI.

extremest possibilities

can be urged, those of

man

crisis,

is

289

and, even in the face of

;

who

believe with

all

that

me that the freedom

destined to pass unscathed through the present

will

have a right

still

evolution will, after

all,

to expect that the religious

pursue

its

way on

the great lines

that I have sketched in these Lectures, gradually puri-

fying the main factors of religion, and making for the establishment of a universal cultus at once rational and fruitful.

It

has been asked whether the " eternal and infinite

Energy"

the inaccessible

Brahma

can succeed any better than

of evolutionism

God

of Neo-platonism or the impersonal

of the Vedantic schools, in inspiring

man with

emotions and aspirations that can crystallize round the religious sentiment

Note that

this

name, and not to us in our itself to

aad express themselves in worship.^

Energy to

own

so called for

want

of a better

be confounded with Force, as revealed conception of physical effort ^

presents

our minds, not only as the supreme Eeality

but also as a Power superior to

all

known

the same time essentially mysterious in

its

forces,

being.

the idea of power, combined with that of mystery, essential basis

and invariable

at

Now is

the

characteristic of the Object

But

of the religious sentiment.

and

I have also

shown that

another factor must enter into worship, namely, the possibility of ^

coming into

relations with this mysterious

Compare the trenchant but

often

unfair criticism which Mr.

Frederick Harrison has brought to bear upon the religion of the

Unknowable in his controversy with Mr. Herbert Spencer in The Nature and Reality of Religion: a Controversy hetioeen Frederick Harrison and Herbert Speneer, New York, 1885, p. 49. ^

Herbert Spencer, First Principles, §§18 and 50.

U


290

THE FUTURE OP "WORSHIP.

VI.

Now

Power.

deaf, blind,

may

in the face of

an Energy, anonymous,

dumb, inexorable as the ancient Fate, man horrorâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;nay, a

well experience a kind of sacred

fascination under

which

his brain whirls

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;without

such

feelings in

any degree influencing his conduct in the

face of the

unknown Power which

inspires

most, one could but exclaim with Littrd alike material

under It is

its

and

....

intellectual

is

At

it. '*

:

the

Infinity,

revealed to us

two-fold aspect of reality and inaccessibility.

an ocean which beats upon our shores, for which

we have

neither barque nor

which

as salutary as

is

Even Mr.

it is

sail,

but the clear vision of

awe-inspiring."

^

Spencer's remark that the supreme Eeality

may be endowed with modes to intelligence

and will as the

existence as superior

of

latter are to

mechanical

movement, cannot save the divine manifestations from sterility, as far as

he,

man,

the actions of

man

are concerned, if

feels incapable of representing

them under any

form drawn from his own concepts.

But

it

is

no longer so when, without attempting

further to define this incomprehensible Power,

we

assign

to it the function of securing the order of the universe.

The great problem on the solution of which the direction of the religious movement of the future depends, is not

why

the Absolute realizes itself under the limitations of

time and space. This question appeals to our metaphysical curiosity alone, to the

and

its

insolubility presents

no obstacle

development of the religious sentiment.

What

in truth affects, and even rends, our labouring thought, ^

Augusts Comte

p. 505.

et la

^Jdlosophie positive, third edition, Paris, 1877,


VI.

THE FUTURE OF "WORSHIP.

291

the question, perfectly formulated

by Mr. Graham, "whether Chance or Purpose governs the world." ^ On

is

.the

answer to this question

it

depends whether there

such a thing as duty, and even whether

life is

is

worth

living.

^^®

Conclusion

The oonception of God in the ti J -j-i-i

^^ ^^^ greatest natural philosophers

declared, speaking, on a memorable occasion,' _ , , of material atheism "I have noticed during '

.

.

:

-tip

years of self-observation that

it

is

not in

hours of clearness and vigour that this doctrine com-

mends

itself to

my mind

and healthier thought

that in the presence of stronger

;

ever dissolves and disappears,

it

as offering no solution of the mystery in

which we

dwell,

and of which we form a part."^ Atheism, properly so

what you,

called,

me

has always been to

in England, call unthinkable ; for

my mind

is

incapable of conceiving of the transient and the finite

without an underlying Absolute, the direct source of

all

phenomena and their laws. In moments of philosophical depression which I have not escaped any more than the majority of my generation what I have asked myself

has not been whether there

is

a

God

in

whom we

live

and move and have our being it has been whether that mysterious Power has any purpose, and specifically any ;

But I too have felt thought became " stronger

beneficent purpose, in the universe.

these doubts disappear as

my

and healthier," and as I have contemplated the whole The Creed of Science, Religious, Moral, and London, 1884, p. 49. 1

^

J. Tyndall,

Social, second edition,

Address delivered lefore the British Association assem-

bled at Belfast, with Additions,

London, 1874,

p.

viii.


292

VI.

THE FUTURE OE WORSHIP.

moral and religious evolution of humanity, continuing

and crowning the organic evolution of the universe, or at least that part of

our observation. blish itself in the is

the goal of

life

which comes within the

it

field of

At bottom, pessimism can only estaminds of those who think that pleasure

life,

or

has no goal at

—which

comes to the same

It disappears

all.

man work by which God

when one

that

thinks

that the highest aim of

consists

in.

taking a share

in the

himself

is

perfecting the

universe.

This brings us back to the religious theory which

we have

seen to reach

its fullest

utterance amongst the

Jews and the Persians, but which has really never been, absent from any religion which identified the moral with

God

the divine order.

And

here on earth

which alone

is

is,

it is

but his work

done above

conscious of

it,

all

is

being done.

by humanity,

and conscious therefore

of

an alliance with the divine Power in the struggle for good.

and

Who

eflort

shall

may

deny that

this

give birth in

community

of aspiration

—even though he have — the

man

no assurance of literal reciprocity

to

feelings of grati-

tude and affection which the Comtists even claim for their collective

humanity

?

Who

shall

deny that

it

may

give

rise to that unalterable faith in the final result of the

alliance

between man. and the Divinity which inspired

the ancient prophets when, in the midst of perils and disasters,

they preached, and in preaching prepared

for,

the great day of Yahveh, the triumph of justice and

brotherhood

in the

world

?

Such an eschatology, however, necessarily involves freedom of the imagination to expatiate in the future, in


VI.

THE FUTURE OF WORSHIP.

world or another.

this

If,

293

as Mr. Spencer says, every

evolution after culminating in a perfect equilibrium, must

be followed by a corresponding dissolution ;

or, in other terms, if the ameliorations progressively and laboriously

acquired by humanity must on some fatal day melt in a cataclysm in which humanity itself will perish together

with

known

all

universe the

beings

;

if,

as the Eleatic

is,

Brahmans have

in a word, the history of the

and

Stoic philosophers

alike believed,

petual re-beginning,

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;then man

and

no more than a per-

will ask himself whether,

it is worth while to devote oneself to mere ephemeral conquests, and whether the Power that makes

in truth,

for righteousness is not

working

like

squirrel in a

a

cage-wheel, capable of amusing an idle spectator, but incapable of rousing those feelings on which religion

For a man

lives.

himself to

it,

to believe in the ideal

and devote

the future must be assured, either in the

expectation of another world in which the injustice of the terrestrial

life

may be

righted, or in the indefinite

progress of humanity towards a perfection which, absolutely realized, pily, astronomers

if

never

may be indefinitely approached. Hap-

and physicists agree in declaring that

the destruction of our planetary system

is

a hypothesis

based on premature assertions ; that our risks of dissolution, even supposing them to be established, may always

be indefinitely adjourned by forces acting in a contrary sense

;

and, finally, that there

is

nothing to exclude the

future possibility of communication between the worlds.^

M. Guyau,

L'irreligion de Vavenir, pp. 441 sq.

day, -when full

self-consciousness has been reached,

^

corresponding power

adequate to arrest the

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; "Perhaps some it

will produce a

march of dissolution

at


294

THE FUTURE OE WOESHIP.

VI.

It is true that science can neither answer our questions as to personal immortality,^ nor demonstrate mathe-

At the

matically that the world advances towards a goal.

very most,

it

can but raise a presumption, and conclude,

with John Stuart Mill, that "there probability in favour of creation

a large balance of

is

by

intelligence." ^

To

transform that probability into certainty will perhaps

always need an act of

faith,

act of rational faith, that

but at any rate

is to say,

of

will

be an

of faith which cannot

be contradicted by reason and which

demands

it

is

postulated

by the

moral obligation graven on our consciences,

just as the belief in the universality of law and even in

the conservation of energy are acts of faith postulated by the demands of the logical consistency graven on our

For

minds.

of Thebes,

us, as for the rishis of India,

and the philosophers

the scribes

of Greece, this is the

supreme conclusion by which religion completes

and in

this sense

the point

it

may

we may repeat with that

Beings capable of distinguishing,

then have reached.

in the infinite complication of cosmic movements, those their evolution

from those which tend to destroy

capable of resisting the latter,

science,

great American

which favour

would perhaps be and thus securing the definitive triumph it,

of the more desired combinations." ^

"At

first

sight

it

might appear that the doctrine

as applied to the subjective world,

[of evolution],

by removing the broad distinction

between the human and the animal mind, would discourage the hope of a future

life for

man's

leaves the question very

that

it

soul.

Yet

may be

it

much where

it

was.

found, after It

may

all,

that

it

perhaps be said

favours the old disposition to attribute immortality to those

lower forms of mind with which the tinuous."

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; James Sully, in his

article

human mind

is

found

to

be con-

on "Evolution," prepared, with

Prof. Huxley's assistance, for fheJUncyclojiatdiaBritanmca, ninth edition, vol. viii. p. ^

772

&.

Three Essays on Religion, London, 1834,

p. 174.


THE FUTURE OF WOESHIP.

VI.

295

and mystic in one, Ealph "Waldo Emerson, " The whole course of things goes to teach us thinker, rationalist

faith

!

We need only

Doubtless the world cal revolutions

and

;

may

still

reactions.

in the past, religions

other

obey."^ witness If

many philosophi-

we may read the future

may yet follow and replace may rise as different from

forms of worship

each ours

was from the temple, or the churches of the early Christians from the pagan sanctuaries. Attributes which many of us regard as essential to the Deity may be cancelled by the theological system which shall as the synagogue

"We or our children may have

gain the ascendant.

to

many God and the destiny of man. Nay, " God" may die, as the Baalim and his known and unknown predecessors the Teotl, Assur and Ammon, Odin and Jupiter, have died; as his contemporaries of to-day, the Brahm of Hindustan, the Allah of Islam, Ormuzd "the Lord a cherished conception of the action of

relinquish

â&#x20AC;&#x201D;

Omniscient," Thian "the Celestial Emperor," and even Yahveh " the Holy One of Israel," shall one day die

but what cannot die

is

the conception, enshrined in these

names, of a mysterious and superhuman Power, realizing the laws of the

himself in

all

himself to

man

known

universe, revealing

in the voice of conscience and the spec-

tacle of the world.

Here we have the truth

implicitly contained in that

three-fold illusion out of which, as

gion sprang personality, 1

â&#x20AC;&#x201D; the

we have

seen, reli-

erroneous extension of the idea of

the confusion between concomitance and

vol. Spiritual Laws, in his Works, two vols., London, 1882,

p. 59.

i.


296

THE FUTURE OF WORSHIP.

VI.

between dreams and reality. Here we have the truth which will remain when it has freed the conception of the Deity from and all the confusions which originally covered it, causality,

and the

failure to distinguish

the parasitical accretions which have of

it,

when

has stripped

it

oflf,

as so

since laid hold

many borrowed

plumes, anthropomorphic attributes and moral limitations,

and has

set forth the existence of deity as

and the action

Harmony.

of deity as

Unity

Here, then,

we

stand at last before the impenetrable veil which will

ever separate the Deity, in

from our

eyes,

may be, even

grandeur and

but which does not cut

manifestations of or,

its

its

power

its

majesty,

off either

the

or the revelations of its law,

the mysterious radiation of an attractive,

force answering to our terms of

Printed by C. Green

sympathy and

& Son,

178, Strand.

love.


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Lectures on the Origin and Growth of the Conception of God  

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