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Title: Ancient Faiths And Modern - A Dissertation upon Worships, Legends and Divinities
Author: Inman, Thomas
Language: English
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A Dissertation upon Worships, Legends and Divinities

In Central And Western Asia, Europe, And Elsewhere, Before The Christian
Era. Showing Their Relations To Religious Customs As They Now Exist.

By Thomas Inman, M.D.

Author Of "Ancient Faiths Embodied In Ancient Names," Etc., Etc.
Consulting Physician To The Royal Infirmary, Liverpool; Lecturer,
Successively, On Botany, Medical Jurisprudence, Therapeutics, Materia
Medica, And The Principles And Practice Ok Medicine, Etc., In The
Liverpool School Ok Medicine. Etc.










Some thirty years ago, after a period of laborious study, I became the
House Surgeon of a large Infirmary. In that institution I was enabled to
see the practice of seven different doctors, and to compare the results
which followed from their various plans of treatment. I soon found
that the number of cures was nearly equal amongst them all, and became
certain that recovery was little influenced by the medicine given. The
conclusion drawn was that the physician could do harm, but that his
power for good was limited. This induced me to investigate the laws of
health and of disease, with an especial desire to discover some sure
ground on which the healing art might safely stand. The inquiry was a
long one, and to myself satisfactory. The conclusions to which I came
were extremely simple--amounting almost to truisms; and I was surprised
that it had required long and sustained labour to find out such very
homely truths as those which I seemed to have unearthed.

Yet, with this discovery came the assurance that, if I could induce my
medical brethren to adopt my views, they would deprive themselves of the
means of living. Men, like horses or tigers, monkeys and codfish, can do
without doctors. Here and there, it is true, that the art and skill of
the physician or surgeon can relieve pain, avert danger from accidents,
and ward off death for a time; but, in the generality of cases, doctors
are powerless. It is the business of such men, however, to magnify their
office to the utmost. They get their money ostensibly by curing the
sick; but it is clear, that the shorter the illness the fewer will be
the fees, and the more protracted the attendance the larger must be the
"honorarium." There is, then, good reason why the medical profession
should discourage too close an investigation into truth.

But, outside of this fraternity, there are many men desirous of
understanding the principles of the healing art Many of these have begun
by noticing the style of the doctor's education. They find that he is
taught in "halls," "colleges," and "schools," for a certain period of
time; and then, at about the age of two-and-twenty, he is examined by
some experienced men, and, if considered "competent," he pays certain
fees, and is then licensed to practise as physician. As all regular
doctors go through this course, it is natural that all should think and
act in a common way, and style their doctrines "orthodox." It is equally
certain that to such opinion the majority adhere through life. But
it has always happened, that many men and women have aspired to the
position of medical professors, without going through the usual career;
or, having done so, they have struck out a novel plan of practice, which
they designate a new method of cure. These have always been opposed
by the "orthodox," and the contest is carried on with varying success,
until the general public give their verdict on one side or the other.
Into the motives which sway the respective combatants we will not enter;
our chief desire being to show that each set is upheld by those who
are designated "laymen," whose education has not been medical The most
intelligent on the heterodox side have been clergymen; and many have
been the complaints of "orthodox" doctors, that "the parsons" should
patronize, so energetically as they do, medical "dissenters."

As the "clerk" takes pleasure in examining the therapeutical doctrines
of his physician, so the medical professor frequently inquires closely
into his clergyman's theological views and feels himself at liberty
to accept or oppose them, as the "clerk" adopts or attacks him and his
theory and practice. It would, indeed, be disrespectful in the listener
not to pay intelligent heed to the discourses which emanate from
the pulpit. I have myself listened to the preaching of hundreds of
university graduates, and of men who never took a degree, and have
noticed that the same diversity of style exists amongst them, as is to
be found in medical men. Some order a certain plan of treatment for a
soul, which they assert to be grievously affected, and give no reason
for what they say or do. Others give their motives for everything which
they affirm, and for the plan which they prescribe for cure. Under the
ministry of one of the last I sat for many years. Conspicuous for sound
judgment, and for a peculiarly clear oratory, his sermons were to me an
intellectual treat. From the exordium, forwards, I followed his words
closely, and lost none of his arguments. But I soon became conscious
that he never once carried his reasoning to its logical conclusion.
Still further, it was manifest that certain things were by him taken for
granted; and it was held to be culpable to inquire into the reality of
those assumptions. In fine, it was evident, that there was a Bluebeard's
closet in the house of God, into which, in the preacher's opinion, it
was death to pry!

With the idea which was gradually forced upon my mind, that there was
a systematic suppression of the truth in the pulpit, I very carefully
searched the Bible, with which I have been familiar from infancy, and
upon which, it is asserted, all our faith is founded. At this time, too,
a casual inquiry into some ancient cognomens, which have descended to
us from remote antiquity, induced me to examine into ancient faiths
generally. With this became associated an examination of all religions,
and their influence upon mankind.

I found that in every nation there have been, and still are, good men
and bad, gentle and brutal, thoughtful and ignorant. That the best men
of Paganism--Buddha, for example--did not lose, by comparison, with the
brightest light of Christianity; and that such large cities as London
and Paris, have as much vice within them as ancient Rome or modern
Calcutta. I found, moreover, that there is a culpable colouring in the
accounts given by Christian travellers of Pagan countries. The clerical
pen rests invariably and strongly upon the bad points of every heathen
cult, and contrasts them with the best elements of Christianity. I
do not know that it has ever instituted a fair comparison between
corresponding characters in each faith. As an illustration of my
meaning, let us regard the stern virtue of the Roman Lucretia, who
committed suicide, her body having been forcibly defiled by the embraces
of another than her husband, even though the ravisher was a prince. She
had heard nothing of the Jewish law or Christian gospel, nevertheless
she was far better than the wives of the nobles in the courts of Louis
the XIV. and XV., who gladly sold themselves and their daughters to the
royal lechers. These, unlike the Italian woman, were instructed both in
the law and the gospel; they attended one place or another of Christian
worship daily or weekly. Nay, if report be true, "the eldest son of the
Church," when he visited the "parc aux cerfs," made each fresh virgin,
victim of his passion, duly say her prayers before she assisted him to
commit adultery, and herself permitted fornication! We sympathize with
Paul and the early Christian fathers in their denunciations of the
Romans and Greeks for obscenities practised in honour of their gods;
but, at the same time, we feel sure that, had those apostles and
teachers lived in the middle ages, they would have denounced, with
greater warmth, the murders which were constantly being perpetrated in
honour of Jesus.

In like manner, we may greatly regret, with the writer of Psalm xiv.,
that amongst "the children of men, there is none that doeth good; no,
not one;" but we must equally bow before the statement of Ezekiel
(ch. xxii. 30), that there was no more propriety amongst the so-called
"chosen people of God," than amongst the Gentile Canaanites and

Again, we feel pain when we find the great ones of the earth--aye, and
many small ones too--seeking out for villains, "willing to commit
murder for a mede," and lament that lawgivers should secretly encourage
lawlessness; but we cannot forget that Jesus of Nazareth is represented,
in John vi. 70, to have selected a devil to bring about certain
ends--see also John xiii. 26, 27, in which the agency is well marked.

Modern divines tell us that war, tumult, hatred, malice, quarrels of all
kinds, and murder come from the devil, and are the direct result of our
fallen nature; nevertheless, we remember that Jesus is reported to have
said--"I came not to send peace, but a sword; I am come to set a man at
variance against his father, and the daughter against the mother," &c.
(Matt. x. 34, 35). When we institute comparisons like these, the
balance is not uneven. I found, moreover, that the sharply defined line,
commonly drawn between Paganism and Christianity, is worthless--the
doctrines of the latter being, in many respects, identical with, or
deduced from, the former.

It seemed necessary, therefore, to ascertain whether, in religion,
any other line than the one in vogue in Europe, could be drawn with

The result of my observations showed a wonderful similarity to exist
between the clerical and medical profession; and I feel that, if my
views about the cure of souls and bodies were generally adopted,
there would be no need either for parson or for doctor. Instead of
discovering, as I had hoped to do, which of all the rival sects of
Christendom is the best one, I found that all were unnecessary, that
many are degraded in doctrine and bad in practice; and that, if any
must exist, the one which effects the least mischief should be the one
selected for general adoption. It required much courage to allow myself
to believe that doctors have, taking everything into consideration,
done more harm in the world than good, and still more to announce my
conviction that Christianity was even more culpable than medicine. The
physician, when professing to cure, has too often assisted disease to
kill; and he who has had the cure of souls, has invented plans to
make believers in his doctrine miserable. The first fills his coffers
proportionally to the extent to which he can protract recovery;
the second becomes rich in proportion to the success with which he
multiplies mental terrors, and then sells repose. The one enfeebles the
body, the other cripples the intellect, and aggravates envy, hatred, and
malice. Both are equally influential in preventing man from being such
as we believe that the Almighty designed him to be.

Though we oppose the old plan of medication of body and mind, we are
far from asserting that there is no value in an honest doctor, either of
divinity or medicine. On the contrary, I have a stronger faith in my own
profession, as it has been reformed, than ever I had ere the light of
good sense had shone upon it; and I have a far more confident trust
in the religion propounded by F. W. Newman, in _Theism_, than in that
current amongst Christians in general But in such schemes of physic
and faith, very few "ministers" are necessary, shams find no place, and
emoluments are small A man who communes with his God requires no priest,
mediator, middle-man, or saint--whether virgin, martyr, or both--to
intercede for him.

Holding such opinions as these, it is not probable that I shall find
many followers. I do not seek them. My aim has been to set good sterling
stuff before the world, so that any one, whose self-reliance is great,
may receive strength. There are many who would rather die with a
physician close beside them when they are ill, than live without a
doctor; and there are few who would not rather enjoy the fear of hell
with the orthodox, than be with heretics free from such terrors--"For
sure, the pleasure is as great in being cheated, as to cheat." To all
such our writings are _caviare_. Yet, even to them, we would say that we
have warrant for our belief in statements, to which the orthodox
cannot reasonably object--viz., "If thou doest well, shalt thou not
be accepted?" (Gen. iv. 7); "In every nation, he that feareth God, and
worketh righteousness, is accepted with him" (Acts x. 35); "He that
doeth righteousness, is righteous" (1 John iii. 7).

Let me contrast my own views with those generally current amongst us. I
believe that God did not make men, any more than the beasts, to damn the
largest number of them throughout eternity. I believe that all who aver
that they have been selected by the Creator from all the world besides
as the only recipients of salvation are wrong, and deceivers of the
people. In fine, I believe that God's "tender mercies are over all his
works." The common opinion that the Almighty so revels in cruelty, that
He makes creatures to torture them, is a horrible one to me--fit only
to come from impotent Pagan priests. That Jehovah selected about one
million of bad men, out of about four hundred other millions equally
bad, solely because their progenitor, Abraham, consented to murder and
burn his son, is to me a frightful blasphemy; and, lastly, that God has
no tender mercies for nine-tenths of the human race, is to convert our
conception of the Author of all good into the conventional "Devil." The
comparison may be summed up thus: I believe in God, the Father of all
things; the so-called orthodox believe in the God Satan. I do not know
anything in all my studies which excited my attention more painfully
than the result of the analysis of Jehovah's character, as given in our
Bible. Kind to those who are said to please Him, He is a fearful demon
to all who are said to oppose Him.

How can any reasonable man hold the opinion that the Devil instigated
all atrocities of the Syrians, Chaldees, Assyrians, Romans, Turks,
Tartars, Saracens, Affghans, Mahometans, and Hindoos, and believe that
the good God drowned the whole world, and nearly every single thing that
had life; that He ordered the extermination, not only of Midianites and
Amalekites, but slaughtered, in one way or another, all the people whom
he led out of Egypt--except two--merely because they had a natural fear
of war. What was the massacre at Cawnpore to that in Jericho and other
Canaanite cities? I say it with sober seriousness--in sorrow, not in
anger--as a thinking man, and not as an advocate for, or against, any
religious view, that it is an awful thing for any nation to permit
a book to circulate, as a sacred one, in which God and the Devil are
painted in the same colours.

Into this analysis of religion I was led to enter from the observation
of a friend, who challenged me to find, in any non-Hebraic or
non-Christian country, a faith or practice equal to that current amongst
the followers of Moses and Jesus, or to discover any spot in the wide
world where there is, or has been, a civilization equal to that which
existed in Judea, and the parts inhabited by Christians. In consequence
of this defiance, it became more than ever necessary for me to study the
nature of the current faith and practice of Christendom, and to inquire
how far the latter was dependent upon the former--that is to say,
whether the practices of civilization are due to our religion, or have
gradually grown up in spite of it. The next point was to pay similar
heed to the doctrines and manner of life common amongst those to whom
our Bible has been wholly unknown.

Many of the conclusions to which I came have already appeared in the
second volume of _Ancient Faiths_, under the heads of "Religion,"
"Theology," &c.; but others came upon me when that book had been
completed, and the present supplement is designed with the idea of
expressing, still further, the extent of my views, and the evidence upon
which they are founded--with special reference to the differential value
of Christian and unchristian faith and practice.

As was natural, this involved the question constantly before my mind in
the preceding volumes--viz., "Is there in reality anything in the Hebrew
and the Christian theology essentially different from that promulgated
by the leaders of divinity in other countries?" This point has
repeatedly been discussed, and amongst the orthodox there is no
difficulty in allowing the existence of a strong similarity in all
systems of religion; but the value of the fact is supposed to be reduced
to ridicule by the monstrous assertion, that Moses and Jesus taught
all the world. Amongst the books which came under my notice, whilst
prosecuting my search, was a very remarkable one, called _The Modern
Buddhist_, now _The Wheel of the Law_, which is an account of the
religious thoughts of a Siamese monarch, with a statement of his
conversations with Christian missionaries. In this the British churchman
and non-conformist can see themselves as others see them; and the
Asiatic has quite as great, perhaps even a superior, right to call the
European "poor and benighted," as the Christian has to call the Buddhist
"a miserable Pagan."

Notwithstanding my endeavours to be perfectly "judicial," and to give
what I believe to be an impartial account of the subjects which I
describe, I have been, by certain critics, accused of special pleading.
It is, perhaps, unnecessary to deny the charge, for each reader must
judge of my fairness, or otherwise, for himself. But, on the other hand,
I retort most strongly, by averring that I have not met, in the whole
course of my reading, a religious work by an orthodox divine, which does
not "bear false witness against its neighbours."

There is in all both a _suppressio veri_ and a _suggestio falsi_,
which makes the honest inquirer almost entirely reject their books.
In addition to this, there is in them a recklessness of statement and
assertion which is unequalled, except in the fierce controversies of
ancient doctors. The perfect contempt which certain puny divines, who
have endeavoured to throw dirt upon the present Bishop of Natal, show
for the laws of evidence, and the systematic way in which they avoid
every real point at issue, are marvellous to those who know that such
people have had an university education, have studied logic, and
profess an unlimited respect for truth. In future years the theological
writings, generally, of our time will be as much objurgated by
enlightened, earnest, and thoughtful readers, as Protestants of to-day
abuse the theology and prurience of Sanchez, Thomas Aquinas, and Peter

In conclusion, I would wish to add, that I am conscious, from the amount
of correspondence which I have had on the subject in hand, that there
is not only a wide, but a constantly extending dissatisfaction
with the current theology taught by the ministers of all
denominations--excepting, as a body, the Unitarians, and such
individuals as Bishop Colenso, Bishop Hinds, Mr Voysey, and others. The
laity are awaking to the fact that priests are strenuously endeavouring
to quench the light of reason in the fogs of faith. Unless the
Protestantism, of which Great Britain was once so proud, decides to
drift into Papism--the only legitimate harbour for those who reject
reason for a guide--it must thoroughly reform itself, and ruthlessly
reject, as "necessary to salvation," every article of belief which is
not only nonsensical or absurd, but which has unquestionably descended
from a grovelling Paganism. To this end we hope that our essays will



     A recapitulation. Destruction of an old edifice precedes the
     building of another on the same site. Chichester Cathedral.
     Difficulties of reconstruction. Innovators are regarded as
     enemies. The Old Testament appraised. The Jews and their
     pretensions. Hebraic idea of Jehovah. The sun and moon. God
     and goddess. Importance of sexual perfection in a Hebrew
     male. Women are prizes given to the faithful Jews. Almost
     everything Jewish came from Pagan sources, except the
     Sabbath. Inquiry into the New Testament necessarily follows
     upon an investigation of the Old. Thoughts upon the history
     of Christianity. Malignancy of its professors. Life of
     Jesus, by various authors. The ground preoccupied.    The
     plan proposed.

In commencing another volume of a series, and one to a great extent
independent of the other two, it is advisable to pause and recapitulate
the points advanced, and the positions attained. This is the more
necessary when the present inquiry is a natural result of a preceding
one, and when an attempt is made to collect and arrange the scattered
materials into an harmonious and consistent edifice. Our volumes on the
subject of "Ancient Faiths in Ancient Names" were, to a great extent,
destructive. They struck heavy blows in all directions, wherever a false
idol was to be recognized, and they destroyed many a cherished delusion,
which was to many as dear as the apple of their eye. But, throughout
the whole process of destruction, the idea of the necessity for a
reconstruction was present to the mind of the author.

It may, indeed, be propounded as an interesting question, whether any
iconoclast ever destroys the idols which his fellow-beings cherish,
without entertaining the belief that he has something superior to offer
in their place. When the fanatic Spaniards upset, fractured, and ground
to powder the stone monsters venerated by the Mexicans, they offered to
the natives the image of a lovely virgin and her gentle son to replace
them; and when the enthusiastic Scotchmen destroyed the marble saints
and gaudy figures of the Popish churches throughout their own country,
they eagerly set forth the superiority of adoring the invisible creator
in spirit and imagination, which afforded scope for the most entrancing
mental delineations, and was far superior to reverencing an ugly effigy,
which no one with any correct taste could admire. In like manner, when
the Mahometan Caliph destroyed the library of Alexandria, he offered to
the mourners in its place the book of the Prophet Mahomet, which was, in
his eyes, a pearl of so great price as to be equivalent in value to all
the world besides.

There can be no doubt, however, that the process of destruction is far
more easy than the task of reconstruction. The engineer who is called
upon to remove a bridge, on account of the badness of its foundation,
may admire the extraordinary firmness with which every stone has been
dovetailed together, and, with the means at his command, may be unable
to construct another having a similar appearance of stability; yet,
after all, an arch which is secure and stable is preferable to one which
is good only in appearance. A very few years have elapsed since it was
found that the tower and spire of the Cathedral at Chichester had been
so built that there was imminent danger of the whole falling down. This
part of the edifice resembled certain faiths which have been raised with
great art to a vast height, with very slender and inadequate material.
So long as they were not assailed by any storm, or tested by the changes
which time produces, they seemed firm and unshakable; but, when they
were really tried, they began to undergo a process similar to that which
obtained in the Cathedral named--the admirers of the edifice attempted
to prop up the failing tower; with iron and timber they shored up its
bulging sides; they erected strong scaffolds to ease the mighty strain
upon the crumbling walls; but all in vain--the lovely spire, built upon
a foundation as rotten as the Mormon faith, came tumbling down, and
the tall emblem pointing to the sky returned once more to earth. Before
there could be any reconstruction attempted, it was necessary to procure
all the material necessary; and when, with great labour, this was
accumulated, a fresh erection was made, which was far stronger than the
first, for every stone was duly examined, and solid masonry replaced
the ancient rubble. So it has been with many a faith. Christianity has
replaced the crumbling Judaism which existed at the beginning of our
era, and the Reformed Church has since then, in many countries, replaced
the gigantic sham of Popery. But the metaphor is one which we cannot
wholly adopt, inasmuch as we believe that no faith of ancient times has
ever wholly fallen like the spire and tower of Chichester, nor has any
new system of belief the solidity of that new edifice which has replaced
the old.

The difficulties connected with reconstruction are greatly increased by
the propensity which is so common in the human mind to make the best
of that which is in actual existence and familiar to the vulgar, rather
than to adopt something entirely new. The child who dislikes to go to
bed at night equally dislikes to get up in the morning, and we have
known elderly people who have systematically preferred an old lumbering
stage-coach to a first-class compartment in a railway carriage. In every
walk of life an innovator is regarded as an enemy by the majority, and
especially by those whose practice or whose theories his discoveries

Yet, great as is the contest which any new truth has to sustain, there
is no doubt whatever that the first part of the fight--the preliminaries
essential to conquest, are the investigation of the ground to be
occupied; the real value of the defences; the superiority of the armour;
and the temper, strength, and tenacity of the offensive weapons. The
engineer to whom is confided the attack or the defence of a town will
abandon or destroy everything which would harbour an enemy or facilitate
his operations. The fighting commodore, ere he carries his ship into
action, sacrifices readily all the gewgaws of luxury; and in like manner
the ecclesiastic ought never to endanger his position by spending his
energies in the defence of a useless outwork or a tinsel ornament.
Entertaining these views ourselves, our first effort has been to
clear the ground, and to remove every object which we consider to be
detrimental to the spread of truth.

We have demonstrated, as far as such a matter is capable of
demonstration, that the Old Testament, which has descended to us from
the Jews, is not the mine of truth which it has been supposed by so many
to be: that not only it is not a revelation given by God to man, but
that it is founded upon ideas of the Almighty which are contradicted
by the whole of animate and inanimate nature. We showed, that its
composition was wholly of human origin, and that its authors had a very
mean and degrading notion of the Lord of Heaven and Earth. We proved,
what indeed Colenso and a host of German critics have demonstrated in
another fashion, that its historical portions are not to be depended
upon; that its stories are of no more real value than so many fairy
tales or national legends; that its myths can now be readily traced
to Grecian, Babylonian, and Persian sources; that its miracles are as
apocryphal as those told of Vishnu, Siva, and other deities; and its
prophecies absolutely worthless. We proved, moreover, that the remote
antiquity of its authorship has been greatly exaggerated; that the
stories of the creation, of the flood, of Abraham, of Jacob, of the
descent into, and the exodus from, Egypt, of the career of Moses and the
Jews in the desert, of Joshua and his soldiers, of the judges and their
clients, are all apocryphal, and were fabricated at a late period of
Jewish history, with the design of inspiriting the Hebrews at a period
when their depression of spirit from foreign conquest was extreme; that
the so-called Mosaic laws were not known until long after the time of
David, and that some of the enactments--that about the Jubilee, for
example--were never promulgated at all. We showed that the Jewish
conception of the Almighty, and of His heavenly host, did not materially
differ from the Greek idea of Jupiter and his inferior deities; that
the Hebrews regarded Jehovah as having human passions and very human
failings--as loving, revengeful, stern, merry, and vacillating--as
"everything by turns and nothing long"--as forming a resolution, and
then contriving how He might, as it were, overreach Himself. We pointed
out that the Jews did, in reality, paint God and the Devil or Satan, as
the same individual, being the former to His friends, and the latter to
His enemies. Indeed, anyone who compares 2 Sam. xxiv. 1 with 1 Chron.
xxi. 1 will see this most clearly demonstrated. We called attention to
the apparently utter ignorance of the Jews that certain laws of nature
existed, and of their consequent belief that defeat, disease, famine,
slaughter, pestilence, and the like, were direct punishments of
ceremonial or other guilt; while victory, wealth, virility, and old age
were special and decided proofs of the Divine favour. We showed that
the Jews were, in general, an abject but a very boastful race, and
that their spiritual guides--the so-called prophets--were constantly
promising, but always vainly, a striking manifestation of the Almighty's
power in favour of the Hebrews when they were in the depths of misery,
that histories were fabricated to give colour to these statements, and
that these, like modern miracles of saints, were narrated as occurring
a long time ago, and in a locality which could not be visited, e.g., in
Samaria and Egypt; we showed, moreover, that the race was imitative, and
readily adopted the religious ideas and practices of those who conquered
them. Still further, we proved that the Jews had no idea whatever of a
future state, and were in utter ignorance of heaven or hell; that they
regarded the Almighty as punishing crime or rewarding goodness in
this world alone, and, consequently, we inferred either--(1) that
the conversation said to have been held between Jehovah and certain
apocryphal men did not really occur; or (2) that God did not think
the existence of a future world a matter of sufficient consequence to
communicate to His friends; or (3) that Elohim had not then created
either a habitation for the blessed, or a future prison-house for the
damned; and we pointed out that the opinions of the Pharisees about
angels, spirits, and futurity were not based upon the writings of Moses
and the prophets, but upon Persian fantasies. In fine, we showed, that
the Hebrews could not sustain the claim they made to be the especial
people of God, and that their writings are of no more value, as records
of absolute truth, or of Divine revelation, than the books of the
Greeks, Persians, Egyptians, Hindoos, Chinese, or the more modern

With all this we indicated that there was, throughout the nations known
as Shemitic, a general belief in the existence of an Almighty Being,
Creator, Director and Governor of the heaven, the earth, and the
sea; that He was considered to be One, yet that He was, nevertheless,
represented by a multiplicity of names, and as having many and opposite

We also showed, that this sublime conception was very thickly coated
with human ideas, often of a debased and grovelling type, and darkened
by legends, which were invented by priests with the design of clothing
themselves, and those of their order, with a portion of the garments
which they had assigned to the Inscrutable. We showed, how the sun
and moon, the stars and planets, became interwoven with the idea of a
Celestial Being, and how they were described in turn as His ministers,
His residence, His army, and sometimes even as Himself. We showed,
moreover, that the Almighty was depicted by some as a male, having the
attributes and passions of men, by others as a female, or celestial
goddess, and by others as androgyne--not exactly a bifrons, like Janus,
but masculine and feminine, Elohim, Baalim, Ashtaroth; that in the
development of this idea, everything which has reference to the
phenomena of mundane creation was closely studied, and introduced into
one religious system or another. As a result of this, it followed, that
there were some sects and temples consecrated to the adoration of the
Creator as masculine, others as feminine, and others as both combined.
We showed still farther, that each sect adopted certain emblems, which
were intended to represent the distinctive mark of the sex under which
it worshipped the Omnipotent, and that the emblems became multiplied
as different nations came into contact with each other, learned foreign
theology, and advanced in their knowledge of natural history. To such an
extent was this symbolism, to which we refer, carried, that the sexual
idea of the Creator at last pervaded, to a greater or less degree, all
forms of worship, and gradually degraded them deeper and deeper, in
consequence of the emblems of the deity being mistaken for the deity
itself, much in the same way as the vulgar, amongst the Roman Catholics,
regard a statuette or picture of the Virgin, or an Ashantee a particular
form of idol fetish. As an example of such development, we pointed out
that the Assyrians represented the Godhead as four-fold, consisting of
the triple male and the single female element in mundane creation, and
that the idea of the trinity in unity, which is a doctrine recognized
as far back amongst all nations as history will carry us, was originally
founded solely upon the well-known fact that the characteristic of the
male is a triad, of which all the parts are really, and in no mysterious
manner, "co-eternal together and co-equal." We also showed that the
feminine idea of the Creator has, from time immemorial, been associated,
in one form or another, with that of a lovely virgin holding a child in
her arms, which is generally very young, and mostly receiving food from
a maternal bosom, the reason of which we hinted at.

We showed that the myths of Adam and Eve, Abraham and Sarai, Esau and
Jacob, were incorporations of the idea that the trinity and the unity,
or, to use the very words of the Athanasian creed, "the trinity in
unity," were the founders of the race of living beings, and, as such,
worthy of worship and honour throughout all ages. This union was spoken
of as "the four," and was symbolized as a square or a cross of four
points, or a cross of eight points. We showed, still farther, that
the male Creator was identified with the sun, and the female with the
crescent moon, and also with the earth; and that one of the symbols of
this celestial union of the sexes was the sun lying within the moon's

We also demonstrated, that a very large part of Pagan worship
consisted in the performance of rites and ceremonies, whose end was the
glorification of the deity under one or other of the selected symbols,
and that a number of feasts were appointed to be held at certain
astronomical periods, in which the assistants were encouraged to indulge
in every form of sensuality (Deut. xiv. 26). We pointed out, that the
Jewish people were largely tainted by this vicious form of worship prior
to the Babylonian captivity, and that a very large portion of their
nomenclature was based upon sexual ideas of the Creator. We also showed,
that the Jewish writings encouraged certain forms of sensuality in a
conspicuous manner; that the condition of the male organ was represented
as being of such importance as to be the ground work of the covenant
between God and the Hebrews, it being declared (Gen. xvii. 14), as if by
the word of the Lord, that no man was to be allowed to live whose organ
had not been improved in a definite manner, i.e., by circumcision or
excision of the prepuce, and that no man was to be admitted into the
congregation of the faithful whose characteristic male organs had in
any way been injured or removed. Deuteronomy xxiii. 1 is conclusive upon
this point, and there is no ambiguity in the words of the decree. We
pointed out, also, that not only was abundance of offspring promised to
the faithful as a proof of God's regard to them, but that the laws, said
to be delivered by Jehovah to Moses, positively provided (see Deut. xxi.
10-14) the means by which the harems of the wealthy could be stocked in
times of war, and by which even the poor might also be indulged, in or
about the precincts of the temple, where slave and foreign women were
kept for the purpose (Numb. xxxi. 40). We pointed out that the
natural result of this licensed debauchery was a great increase in the
population, which was so much in excess of the capacity of the land to
sustain them, that it was necessary to check the number of adult mouths
by conniving at infanticide, as was done in Rajpootana up to a recent
period, and is said to be done in China now. It is clear, from the
denunciations by the prophets of the vileness of the Jews of Jerusalem,
and the impotent laws which were introduced into the so-called Mosaic
code, that the Hebrew family was to the full as bad and vile as were the
nations around them.

We further showed that there was a marked difference in the thoughts,
the doctrines, the laws, the knowledge, the writings, and the form
of worship amongst the Jews after they had come into contact with the
Babylonians, Persians, and Greeks; and we adverted to the fact that the
laws of the Persians, and those of him, whom we would designate
"the fictitious Moses," were remarkably similar; and we showed
that everything in the Old Testament, which is, by the majority of
Christians, deemed to be of Divine origin, had been derived from or
through one or other of the sources which we have named, and which we
call Pagan. From this we deduced the important corollary, either that
the so-called revelation of the Old Testament is a sham, a priestly
fabrication, and what is known as "a pious fraud," or that it was not
made originally to the Hebrews. In neither case can the Jews establish a
title to be the "chosen people of God" in any sense of the words. If the
Bible is true, the Gentiles have spiritual precedence over the Hebrews,
and the Pagans have the _pas_ of the Christians.

This deduction enabled us to recognize the importance of an extended
inquiry into the faith, religion, and practice of other nations, before
we assume ourselves to be in a position to appreciate the claims
which one human being, or any body of men, might make to be the
representatives of the Almighty, the sole recipients of His commands,
and the only medium by which prayers can be forwarded to Him. Again, the
history of the past, and a study of the present, enabled us to see that
the foundation of a new religion, or the modification of an old one, did
not destroy ancient practices, though it transferred priestly power to
a new set of men, who, while they introduced new gods and new dogmas,
endeavoured to incorporate the older ideas with new, so as to seduce or
cheat the vulgar, whom it was not judicious to slaughter, into adopting
the new faith. Consequently, we are able to understand how indecent
ideas, sexual emblems, and Pagan festivals, with many of the licentious
practices associated therewith, have been handed down from a remote
idolatry to a modern and comparatively enlightened Christianity. The
symbols of the objectionable still remain, but the things symbolized
have been altered, and the original ideas suppressed. The male triad is
a holy trinity; the monad is no longer the emblem of womankind, but of
the so-called Mother of God, or, as the Romanists say, of the
_Mater Creatoris_. But with this knowledge comes the very important
consideration, how far Christian ideas, which are founded upon Pagan
fancies, can be regarded as Divine. This, again, involves the question,
how far Jesus, who had not penetration enough to discover the true
nature of the writings to which he trusted, can be considered as an
incarnation of Divine knowledge, or of unbounded wisdom. Still further,
it became clear, after our arguments, that if the stories of the
creation of man, the fall of Adam, the life of Noah, of Abraham, of
Moses, the tale of Sinai, and the supremacy of Judah, are mythical--if
the prophetic writings are as worthless as the oracles of Dodona and of
Delphi--then all theories, dogmas, and doctrines founded upon them must
be equally valueless.

In pursuance of my subject, I pointed out that there was not a nation
known to history which had not its god or gods, a sacred priesthood, a
set of prophets, either located in one spot, or appearing as independent
vaticinators, a number of holy festivals, of hallowed shrines, of
mysterious temples, and an inner and recondite arcanum into which the
profane were not permitted to enter. I showed that other nations besides
the Jews had a sacred ark which was an emblem of a divinity; that the
use of sacrifices was common to every nation of antiquity; and that such
things had existed in Hindostan from time immemorial. I pointed out,
that there was no single precept or order contained in the Jewish
Ritual which could not be found amongst all other people, with the sole
exception of the Sabbath; and that the respect for this very strange law
was due to the ignorance of the Hebrews, who regarded Saturn as the most
high amongst the gods--information gained from the Babylonians.

Thus, an investigation into the nature and importance of Ancient Faiths
becomes a necessary prelude to, or, rather, is unavoidably followed
by, an inquiry into the beliefs, doctrines, and practices current in
Christendom generally, and in Great Britain particularly. Yet, though
I was insensibly driven forwards to complete the task which I began,
without having any definite notion of the amount of labour I should
have to undergo, I passively resisted for a long time the conclusions to
which I was drawn, feeling myself unwilling, almost, indeed, unable, to
undertake an examination which might shake my faith in the New Testament
as it had been shaken in the Old. Like many others of a thoughtful turn
of mind, I could see, without very strong regret, the Jewish writings
consigned to their appropriate niche in the library of the world; but
I shunned the effort required to take down the books of the Gospels
and Epistles and weigh them in the impartial balance of critical
truth. Nevertheless, as my work on Ancient Faiths progressed, I became
painfully conscious that I must plead guilty to the charge of mental
cowardice if I shirked the duty of examining the New, as I had
investigated the Old, Testament. But when the resolution to investigate
modern faith was at length formed, the difficulties surrounding the
subject became apparent. The history of modern faith is, to a great
extent, the history of Christianity, and the history of Christianity
must start from a history of Jesus and his apostles--Paul, Peter, James,
John, and Jude, as given in the Epistles and Gospels included in the
canon of the New Testament. To cope with any one of these histories as
they deserve to be handled would involve the work of a lifetime, and for
one man to exhaust the whole seemed to me an impossibility. There
was, in addition to this, another consideration which complicated
my difficulty still farther, viz., the fact that there were already,
written histories of the nature of those alluded to, and that it would
be useless to multiply them. It is a thankless task to pursue the
current of the Christian religion through the dark scenes which shrouded
it, from the time when it was adopted by a few "unlearned and ignorant
men," until it emerged as a power able to shake empires--from the period
wherein its professors were burned and otherwise tortured to death,
to the days when their own Christian successors racked, roasted, and
tormented their opponents, with a malignancy and cruelty as great as
that which they themselves had execrated when practised upon their
predecessors. From the moment that Christianity became a political
power, its history resembled that of any tyrant or other ruler, and it
is filled with misrepresentation, lying, fraud, the records of fighting
and slaughter, of brutal passions, frightful laws, and horrible
punishments; in fact, the record of political Christianity is that of a
Devil in sheep's clothing. Even Calvin, one of our cherished reformers,
burnt another Protestant almost in the same year as the Papists burnt
Ridley and Latimer. The English Episcopalians in Scotland, and the
Cromwellian Puritans in Ireland, showed more of the ravening wolf in
their actions than of the amiable shepherd, who "gently leads" the weak
ones of his flock. In fact, the more loud the proclamation of a pure
Christianity, the more devilish is the practice of its heralds.

When I turned to the consideration of the life of Jesus, it was clear
that the ground was already fully occupied. In 1799 a Mr Houston
published a work entitled _Ecce Homo; or, a Critical Inquiry into the
History of Jesus Christ: being an Analysis of the Gospels_, a second
edition of which was made public fourteen years afterwards, and, as
a result, its publisher (D. J. Eaton) was prosecuted, and such of the
impressions as could be collected were publicly burned in St. George's
Fields, London, by the common hangman, whose business it was to strangle
truth as well as murderers. This book, which is little known to modern
readers, is strictly what it professes to be--a critical inquiry
into the history of Jesus Christ, and it may, to a great extent, be
considered as the progenitor of more modern treatises. It does not
materially differ from the _Ecce Homo_ of to-day, or from the other
works which we shall name, except in its style and composition. Having
been written when all were in the habit of expressing their views in
strong language, and when opponents were abused in terms of coarse
invective, the author has expressed himself in a manner calculated to
offend rather than to convince, and to stir up anger rather than
to encourage thought. Yet his arguments are unanswerable, and his
deductions unimpeachable, by those who know the value of evidence and
exercise their power of ratiocination. I have been unable to find that
any work was written in refutation of the author's views, and the
only opposition to it was from the usual agent of the weak-minded, but

In more recent times, and within a very short period of each
other--so short, indeed, that we may say that the books were composed
simultaneously in Hindostan, Germany, France, and England--there have
appeared _A Voice from the Ganges,_ Strauss' _New Life of Jesus_,
Kenan's _Life of Jesus_, The English _Life of Jesus_, by Mr Thomas
Scott, of Norwood, a second _Ecce Homo_, from a modern Professor, and
_The Prophet of Nazareth_, by Owen Meredith.* In these volumes, the
historical value of the Gospel narratives closely and critically
examined, and a just appreciation of the character, preaching, and
practice of the Prophet of Nazareth are honestly sought after, and,
in the opinion of impartial readers, they must be held to have been
attained. Throughout the series which we have mentioned nothing that is
capable of demonstration, or of approximate proof, is taken for granted.
The scholarship of the critical philosopher everywhere overbears the
prejudice of the Christian bigot. Since the appearance of these another
author has treated upon the same subject, but only cursorily, and as
bearing upon other matters, in a work entitled _The Book of God; or, The
Apocalypse of Adam Oannes_, which was published anonymously, 1868.

     * Whilst this sheet was in the printer's hands, a most
     remarkable book was published anonymously, entitled,
     _Supernatural Religion_, in two volumes. In it there is a
     most scholarly account of the origin of the New Testament
     writings, one which every thoughtful person should peruse.

Between the publication of the first _Ecce Homo_ and the second, viz.,
in 1836, there was printed, for private circulation, a very remarkable
work, entitled _Anacalypsis; or, an Attempt to draw aside the Veil of
the Saitic Isis_, by Godfrey Higgins. His two volumes are replete with
learning, and with deductions more startling than any which had appeared
prior to his own time; but the subject matter is so badly arranged,
that it is with very great difficulty that the trains of thought which
occupied the author's mind can be dis-. covered. His main idea is,
that very nearly everything in religion which appears to be mythical or
mysterious enfolds certain astronomical facts--such as the precession
of equinoxes, the duration of cycles of time--such as are necessary
to reproduce exactly a concordance between certain terrestrial and
celestial phenomena. With this theory he interweaves an amazing number
of facts which seem to favour the opinion enunciated in the book of
Ecclesiastes--i.e., that there is nothing new under the sun. He shows
that the idea of "incarnations," the birth of a heavenly child from a
pure virgin, and a variety of so-called Christian dogmas, have existed
in every age of which we have historical accounts.

He gives a vivid sketch of the nature of Christianity and its progress
from century to century, and he expresses himself respecting its modern
developments much in the same strain, though in a far more gentlemanlike
style, as did his contemporary, the Rev. R. Taylor, to whom was given,
or who assumed for himself, the title of the Devil's chaplain.

In the estimation of some of these writers, Jesus, the son of Mary, is
quite as mythical a being as Hercules, the son of Alcmena. This view has
been more recently adopted by some freethinkers of the present day. The
main support on which such individuals rely is the fact that there is no
mention of Jesus by any contemporary historian; and that, although
there are extant Jewish records of current history, at the time in which
Christ is said to have lived, they make no mention of him who is now
called the Saviour and of his wonderful history. It is pointed out that
the histories of the Gospels came out with marvellous rapidity, from
Alexandria, about the end of the first century, at a time when all
contemporaries of Jesus were dead.

To this work of Higgins it is probable that we shall have repeatedly
to refer, for his language is frequently so forcible that it cannot
be improved, and, moreover, he very often quotes from books, copies of
which I have been unable to obtain.

When I found that the ground which I intended to occupy had already
been so well and so ably cultivated, it occurred to me that it would be
advisable to take a wider flight than was originally contemplated, and,
instead of examining the Christian faith alone, to associate with it an
account of the faiths of those nations of whom we have some knowledge.
By this means it appeared to me, that we should be enabled to see
clearly, how far the current belief and practice of Christendom differs
from the doctrines and practices of those to whom Christianity could
never, by any possibility, have come, and we can examine, incidentally,
into the teachings of Jesus, and compare them with that of his
predecessor, Sakya Muni, or Buddha. We may also investigate impartially
such doctrines as the immaculate conception, and the existence of

When treating, however, a subject like the religions of the ancient and
modern world, it is difficult to frame the history so as to bring out
the salient points, in a manner satisfactory to the reader or to
the writer. The latter is tempted to begin, as he believes, at the
beginning, and to trace the development of religious thought from
its simplest expression up to its highest aspiration. This temptation
becomes all the stronger if, in the course of his study, he has
investigated the animal and vegetable creations. In those vast kingdoms
he sees that the philosopher is able to lead his disciples onwards
from the minute monad, or the simplest mass of matter, to the gigantic
mastodon, without any very conspicuous flaw or break in continuity; but,
on closely observing his method of proceeding, the student finds that
links which connect genera or species together are found in countries so
wide apart, that no direct communication can be supposed between the one
type and the other. Thus the gap between mammals and birds is said to
be filled by the "ornithorhynchus paradoxus," an animal living in a
vast island, in which scarcely one quadruped mammalian is known to
have existed, and where the aboriginal birds form a class peculiar to
Australia, and have no resemblance to the creature referred to.

Yet, though the temptation is great, and although we feel justified in
reasoning from the known to the unknown, and in supplying missing links
from analogy, or from our own imagination, still, we consider that it
will be our best plan to confine ourselves, as far as possible, to
that which is written, and to describe first, the religious ideas and
practices of some so-called savages; secondly, the ideas and practices
of some ancient races, whose histories, more or less perfect, have
come down to us, with a view to ascertain whether there is anything
essentially good in modern Christianity, either in faith or practice,
which is peculiar to that form of religion, or whether almost the same
style of teaching may not be found to have been common in the remote
East, at a period some centuries prior to the birth of Jesus.

As we have investigated the subjects of Sin, Salvation, Prayer,
Inspiration, &c., it is unnecessary to refer to them again.


     Travellers' tales not to be trusted. Prejudice perverts
     facts. The Esquimaux. Cause of reverence for parents. The
     Red Indian in the presence of immigration is a moral
     murderer. Inquiry into Indian religion. O. KEE. PA. Indian
     reverence for phenomena of nature. Ruins of a past
     civilization in America. Cairns and human sacrifices.
     Manufactured goods. Bronze in Yucatan. Resemblance between
     the ancient American people and certain Orientals. Abbé
     Domenech's travels. Sacrifice at obsequies, idea involved
     thereby. Scythian proceedings. Mexico and its theology. Two
     different conceptions of deity. The Unity subdivided by
     Mexicans, Jews, and Christians. The God of war and the Lord
     of Hosts. The God of air a deity in Mexico, a devil in Judea
     or Ephesus. Mexican baptismal regeneration. Resemblances
     between the Occidental and Oriental people in many curious
     doctrines. Particulars. Mexican Heaven, Hell, and Limbo.
     Mexican baptism and prayers. Priests and their duties. A
     parallel. Romanists and Mexicans. Confession. Expiation.
     Human sacrifice to obtain pardon of sin. A comparison
     suggested. Mexican education. Purity of life in the Mexican
     priestesses. Father Acosta's opinion thereon. Tartary, Rome,
     and Mexico have something common in culture. Education of
     youth. Policy of the priesthood. Reflections thereupon.
     Teocallis or houses of God. Worship. Festivals. Human
     sacrifice. No sexual deities or rites. Question of
     credibility--God and the Devil act alike! Aztecs and
     Europeans compared. Christians have offered human sacrifice
     from the time of Peter downwards. Transubstantiation is a
     cannibal doctrine. Christian gods in Mexico as bad as the
     Aztec deities. History of Peru. The policy of its rulers.
     Roads and magazines. Nature of its government Governors were
     instructed in their duties. Civil service examination.
     Inauguration of youths into honourable manhood. Travelling
     compulsory in rulers. Postal system--division of the people
     --local magistrates--law speedy. Code of law. Punishment
     without torture. Peruvians and inquisitors. Reports required
     of lands and families. Register of births, &c. Rapidity of
     communication. Plunder not permitted. Peace the motive for
     war. The vanquished incorporated with the victors. A
     paternal government. Peruvian religion. Difference between
     political institutions and priestcraft. Peruvian sun god. An
     invisible God recognised. Priests. Eternal life.      Heaven
     and  Hell.     Temple of the sun magnificent. Golden
     ornaments. Huge urns of silver. Number of priests.
     Festivals. Cannibalism not permitted. Fire made from rays of
     sun and concave mirror, or by friction. Virgins of the sun.
     Concubines of the Inca. Matrimony.    Reflexions.

When the philosopher reads over the histories which adventurous
travellers, or Christian missionaries, have given of the religions of
the savage, or uncivilized, people whom they have visited, he feels
painfully conscious that the accounts are not implicitly to be relied
upon. In some he recognizes the fact that communications only take place
between the one party and the other by signs, which not only may be, but
very generally are, misinterpreted on both sides; in others he is able
to see, or, at least, he comes to the conclusion, that the untaught
barbarians have not a single idea which is not connected with eating
and drinking, war, revenge, and love;--that such, indeed, resemble brute
beasts, who have no more conception of hell or heaven, God and the soul,
than an elephant has of aerostation, or a crow of theology. In other
narratives the observer notices, that the individuals who interrogate
the savages are themselves enthusiasts of a high order, who ask leading
questions, and are content to receive, as a satisfactory answer,
anything which can be considered as a reply. By this means very
erroneous ideas have crept in amongst ourselves, and writers have built
arguments upon a foundation as flimsy as a shifting sand. For example,
I have repeatedly heard it alleged that every known tribe, in every part
of the world which has yet been visited, has a tradition respecting an
universal deluge, and the salvation of their progenitors by a
floating vessel; and on this has been founded the hypothesis that all
architecture, and even written characters, have an ark for their type.
This development has been very ingeniously supported by J. P. Lesley, in
_Man's Origin and Destiny_ (Trubner, London, 1868), a work replete with
learning, and bold, but somewhat unsound, deductions. This assumed fact
has also been used in support of the Biblical story of Noah, his ark,
and the universal deluge--a myth so palpably extravagant, that everyone
who professes to credit it is compelled to object to some detail, and
to lean upon some frail reed, with the hope that he may thus be pardoned
for his credulity. Since the above was written, it has been ascertained
that the tale of Noah and his deluge is adapted from an Assyrian or
Babylonian legend, written apparently with a view to make a story
fitting to the sign of the Zodiac called Aquarius, one to the full as
fabulous as that of the birth of Bacchus, and the amours of Zeus.

In some instances, moreover, and palpably in those cases where the
account of the religion of barbarous nations is given by fanatics, such
as the Roman Catholic invaders of America, or by such conquerors as
Cæsar and others, who have themselves very hazy notions of their
own faith, the philosopher feels that the savage is intentionally
misrepresented; consequently, in these, as in all other instances, it
behoves the philosopher to examine the evidence at his command with
critical acumen, rather than accept the statements made by more or less
careless observers. Endeavouring, therefore, to avoid these difficulties
as far as possible, let us summarize the result of our reading, and
record the impressions left upon our mind respecting the faith, ritual,
and practice of certain modern and ancient barbarians.

Beginning with the vast American continent, we find that the Esquimaux
appear to have no conception whatever of a Creator, of a future state,
of a mundane theocracy, or of any unseen agency but good or bad
"luck." But they, nevertheless, put a certain amount of faith in
conjurers--cunning men or women who profess to be able to insure them a
good supply of seals or walrus, and protection from Arctic dangers. For
such a people as this the wants of the day form the chief, if not the
only, object of thought; and they resemble lions or eagles, who are now
all but famished in the hunt for food, and now gorged to repletion with
the result of their quest. To such a nation, Heaven, as described in the
Bible, with its sea of glass, its harpists and singers, would afford no
temptation, and, unless it was furnished with abundance of oily food, an
Esquimaux would not visit it; nor would the fires and heat of Hell have
any terrors for one whose torments on earth are connected with miserable
cold. In practice, the Esquimaux are very much what they are made by
their neighbours and visitors: they are very decently behaved to those
who treat them well, and cruel, barbarous, and revengeful to strangers
after they have themselves been worried by invaders. Alternately
gluttons and starving they obey the necessities of their existence--they
eat to keep themselves warm, and they must be anchorets as rigid as any
Theban hermit whilst they are seeking their prey. With a temperature
below zero, and winter huts constructed of ice, chastity is almost
a necessary virtue, and adultery cannot possibly be frequent. Where
everything of value is rare, covetousness is not common; but if the
holder of the coveted prize be always alert, it is quite natural that
murder shall be attempted, either by the thief or his victim. The
reverence of parents here, as elsewhere, is a necessary accompaniment of
savage life, and is quite independent of any knowledge of the decalogue.
To prevent reiteration of this observation, let us consider for a
moment, the chief if not the main cause, of the reverence given to the
father, and, more rarely, to the mother in the economy of human life. We
see that the Almighty has implanted an instinct in one or both parents,
throughout the larger part of the animal creation, to nourish, guide,
and teach their young. The duck leads her brood to a pond; the hen keeps
her chicks from water, but teaches them to pick up seeds, grubs, and
worms; whilst the cock keeps order amongst the family, The weasel
teaches its offspring how to attack its prey most advantageously, and
the eagle instructs her young ones to fly. In like manner, man is at the
head of his own household; he is the first power to which the young ones
bow; they know the weight of his arm, and dread his anger, knowing that
they will suffer from it when it is stirred up. We all know, as a rule,
that a habit contracted in childhood adheres to us throughout life,
consequently, the dread of the father which exists in the youth becomes,
very generally, filial reverence in the man. But we also know that
almost throughout the animal creation, the young and sturdy males
will, as they grow up to maturity, fight for supremacy, even with their
parents. So long as the latter retain the mastery they are respected;
but as soon as age and its accompanying weakness have made them succumb,
all filial respect vanishes. If, therefore, a parent, when old, is
unable to make himself feared by his prowess, revered for his good sense
or knowledge, or beloved for some faculty which makes him pleasing to
his family or the tribe, he is neglected, and often sacrificed, so
that the young shall have only themselves to provide food for. Even in
Christian England, where filial regard is cultivated as an essential
part of our religion, we too frequently find that parents are wholly
neglected by their adult offspring, as soon as they become, from
sickness, age, or other infirmity, useless members of the family.

Without having ever heard of a law, or set of laws, given in a desert
from Mount Sinai, the Esquimaux are as moral as modern Christians, and
more so than the ancient Jews: they certainly have not more gods than
one, and do not worship any graven image. Amongst them blasphemy is
unknown. Parents are honoured; chastity is general; murder is very
rare; theft only exists when strangers come amongst them with valuable
matters, such as cutting weapons. Amongst such a primitive people false
witness is unknown, and covetousness only exists in the presence of
travellers who have well-stocked ships or sledges. But the Esquimaux do
not keep a Sabbath of rest every seventh day; how, indeed, could they,
when many of their days have a duration of six weeks--according to the
Hebrew computation, which measures the day by sunsets. It is clear,
then, that what many persons designate Christian virtues do not
necessarily depend upon a knowledge of Jehovah, of Jesus, or of both.

The North American Indian appears to have been, when first discovered,
wholly without any distinct religious faith. It is true that some
authors have described him as reverencing his manitou, or great spirit,
and speaking of some happy hunting ground to which his soul will pass
after death; but I am unable to find any reliable testimony in support
of this poetic notion. To me it seems that the Red Indian is nothing
more than one of a ferocious tribe of men, who, having to subsist by the
chase alone, bestows all his thoughts upon getting meat, and driving off
his neighbours from interfering in his lands. To such an one a teeming
population is equivalent to a diminution in the supply of game, and
this, again, involves starvation. With him, therefore, the murder of his
neighbours becomes a matter of necessity, one which may be regarded by
him as an absolute virtue, a matter of public policy, and essentially
a moral duty; and as he is little superior to a tiger or a cat, he does
not scruple to add cruelty to homicide. He who has seen a carnivorous
beast seize its living prey, disable, without killing it, and then lie
by and watch its victim, rising now and again to give it a shake, or
a pat with its claw, can well understand how a Blackfoot Indian might
gloat over a dying Delaware, or a Mandan torture an Iroquois when he had
the chance, each regarding the other as men consider wasps and hornets.
Yet, though without religion, the Indian is not without fear. He is
terrified by strange noises, and by weird sights; there is a being whom
he dreads; and there is in every tribe a "medicine man," who is supposed
to have supernatural power, and to be able to attract good or to banish
evil fortune from the chief and his people. Practically, the Red Indian
is as superstitious about lucky and unlucky days as was the Hebrew David
and the Persian Haman, and, prior to the starting of an expedition, the
diviner is consulted, who may, possibly, answer in the words of the Lord
(?) of Judah, "let it be when thou hearest the sound of a going in the
tops of the mulberry trees, then thou shalt bestir thyself, for then
shall the Lord go out before thee to smite the host of the Philistines"
(2 Sam. v. 24).

But though without religion, in the usual acceptation of the word, the
Indians were not, when first the white man knew them, wholly without
ritual, or what has been designated a sacred ceremony. The celebration
to which we refer occurred every year, was conducted by a definite set
of actors, and was attended to with wonderful reverence. A full account
of such ceremony is given by G. Catlin, in a work entitled, O Kee Pa
(Trübner, London, 1867). In it figures a mystic messenger, who comes to
demand the initiation of the young men of the tribe who have attained
a fighting age; tents are then prepared, and men and women are duly
painted and otherwise disguised to represent buffaloes and bugbears,
the bad spirit, etc.; the main intention of the whole being to test the
courage, strength, and endurance of the young men by frightful tortures,
which are too disgusting for description here. At the end of the trial,
however, each votary sacrifices a joint of the little finger of one hand
to the bad spirit. At this feast-some doll-like effigies are used to
mark the "mystery" tent.

Amongst barbarians like these are, it will readily be imagined that
such virtues as chastity and charity have no existence,--that successful
theft ennobles the robber, and that the slaughter of an enemy, either by
treachery or in fair fight, is regarded as a proof of courage, much as
it was amongst the Spartan Greeks. Polygamy is simply a matter of wealth
and arrangement, and women are purchased and treated like slaves. It is
the man's business to hunt and fight, it is the woman's duty to make the
best or the most of the spoils of the chase.

Yet, with this general absence of all religion, there appears to
be, here and there, a reverence for certain strange phenomena of
nature--such as hot or bubbling fountains, sulphur springs, steaming
geysers, and curious rocks, like the celebrated pipe-stone rock in the
Sioux territory. From this all pipes ought to be made, there being as
much of orthodoxy in such bowls amongst the Indians as there is in an
"Agnus Dei" amongst Christian papists. There is, too, a reverence for
the dead occasionally to be met with, but it cannot be said to amount
to worship. In some instances, but I do not find that the custom is
general, a man is interred with his horse, weapons, and medicine bag,
as if it was expected that he would live beyond the tomb, and require in
his other state of existence that which he wanted in this.

What we have said of the North American aborigines applies with equal,
if not with greater, force to those of the South.

From what the savage redskins are, and have been, during the last two or
three centuries, a transition to what they have been in the past is very
natural; and, whilst making the step, the philosopher will be reminded
of the observation made by some profound observer, to the effect---"go
where you will, no matter how savage the nation, you will be sure to
find the remains of a previous empire, nation, or civilization." Vast
forests, scarcely yet fully explored, cover ancient cities in Ceylon
and Central America alike, and men, who toiled to build vast temples,
towers, palaces, and fortresses, are replaced by wild animals. In
the Bashan of Palestine, primeval houses of stone still stand, where
scarcely a resident is to be found, and the present inhabitants are far
inferior to the ancient race that built these enduring dwellings. Thus
the Abbé Domenech writes (_Seven Years Residence in the Great Deserts of
North America_, London, Longman, 1860), vol. I., p. 353--"From Florida
to Canada, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, the American soil
is strewn with gigantic ruins of temples, tumuli, entrenched camps,
fortifications, towers, villages, towers of observation, gardens, wells,
artificial meadows, and high roads of the most remote antiquity."

Without entering closely into the nature of the antiquities discovered,
we may state that they comprise pyramids, cones, obelisks, hills
surrounded by a deep vallum, like that adjoining Salisbury, and earthen
constructions analogous to that at Avebury. There is evidence that
the artificial erections, which were so built as to be visible from an
enormous distance, were designed, possibly, as cairns, or memorials of
the dead, but also as spots for sacrificial offerings, resembling those
called high places in Ancient Palestine, the tumulus over Patroclus, and
the Scythian mounds in the Crimea. The altars which have been discovered
are made of baked clay or stone, and have the shape of large basins,
varying in length from nineteen inches to seventeen yards, but generally
about two yards and a-half. Under and around the altars calcined human
bones were found, and sometimes a whole skeleton was met with in the
tumulus, as if a sacrifice of men attended the funeral rites, as we
learn from Homer that it did, before Troy, when Achilles directed the
obsequies of his friend Patroclus. Cremation, as well as sepulture, was
adopted, and with the dead, ornaments, arms, and other objects, which
belonged in life to the departed, were buried; amongst these are to be
reckoned trinkets of silver and of brass, as well as of stone and bone.
As a proof of the advanced knowledge of the people referred to, I may
here quote, from memory, a note from Stevens' _Central America_, to the
effect that the bronze tools found in Yucatan, &c., amongst the quarries
whence the stone for the ancient temples was procured, are nearly as
hard as steel, and that a similar bronze is only known to have existed
in some of the ancient tombs and quarries of Egypt, an observation
which receives additional value from Domenech's remark, vol. I., p.
364--"These works of art (arms, idols, and medals, found in New Granada
tombs) are acknowledged, by the archaeologists of Panama, to possess the
characteristics of both Chinese and Egyptian art." Here, again, I would
call my readers' attention to the facts, that in very modern times
Chinese have migrated to California, Australia, Singapore, and other
distant localities, and that Fortune found Egyptian curiosities in
_virtù_, shops in China, whilst Egyptologists have discovered Chinese
manufactures in Egyptian tombs. The subject of the extent of travel in
ancient times does not enter into my present plan; but as I am desirous
to make the mind of my readers expansive enough to receive everything
which bears upon the history of man upon the earth, I may be allowed to
sow seed by the way-side, some of which may blossom as "a garden flower
grown wild." Domenech, in p. 408, vol. I., figures a remarkable stone,
by many persons supposed to be a hoax or forgery, which was found at the
base of one of the largest mounds in North America, situated in Western
Virginia. It lay in a sepulchral chamber, thirty-five feet from the
surface, was elliptic in shape, two inches and a-half long, two wide,
and about half an inch thick, and the material was of a dark colour, and
very hard. The following is a copy from Domenech's work, and, without
dwelling upon it, we may call attention to the similarity of some of
the letters with those known to, or used by the Phoenicians, Ancient
Greco-Italians, and Carthaginians. Like the Newton Stone, in Scotland,
and some Gnostic gems, it may be said to be learned "gibberish," which
"the spirits" can read but no one else.

[Illustration: 056]

There is, indeed, much more evidence than is generally supposed to
connect the ancient mound-builders in America with the inhabitants
of the Eastern Hemisphere, particularly in their modes of burial, the
nature of their earthworks, and the style of such ornaments and figures
as have been found. For example, there is one enclosure described, in
the centre of which is erected a mound and pillar, precisely resembling
the linga yoni of the East. In addition to these, carved stones have
been found, which unite together such Oriental emblems as the sun and
moon, the Tau, T and the egg, O which together make the well-known
Egyptian symbol A. Again, Domenech figures some male and female human
effigies, of whom American savans write that they represent idols of
sexual design, similar to those exposed in the _Mysteries of Eleusis_,
one of them being a badly finished image of Priapus. Domenech still
farther states, on the authority of Cortez, that a form of worship,
recalling the Egyptian mysteries of Isis and Osiris, was established in

Respecting the nature of the religion of the mound builders the Abbé
writes--"The government of these nations appears to have been theocratic
or sacerdotal, like that of the Jews, and the religious administrative
and military power was, probably, vested in one and the same person.
This is clearly evinced by the taboo, or sacred monuments, being
combined with those of a purely military character," p. 366. Without
straining doubtful points too far, we may content ourselves with
affirming that the researches of Davis and Squire, of Stephens, and of
Domenech, show that the mound builders of America raised high places
for sacrificial fires; that they built huge piles of earth over dead
warriors; and, that during the funeral rites which were observed at the
obsequies, they immolated certain human victims.

Let us now pause for a moment and consider how much is involved in the
practice of making a sacrifice by fire, or otherwise, at the burial of
any deceased chieftain or honoured man. With what idea could the living
wife join her husband on the funeral pyre in India, or the ancient
Tartars have slain the horse, slaves, wives, and chief officers of a
defunct king, burying them all in a vast grave, unless they entertained
the belief that there was a life beyond the grave? The faith may have
been of the crudest form, yet the practice evidenced the belief that
those who died, and were buried together, would arise and live at the
same time and place, and in the same relative positions which they had
during life. If this be granted, it demonstrates that the early dwellers
in America had a higher conception of immortality than had the ancient
Jews, even although the latter assumed, and pertinaciously persisted in
the assertion, that they, and they only of all the nations of the
world, were taught of God--a boast to which a vast number of thoughtless
Christians give a profound reverence, and most implicit belief.

Without speculating upon the probable connexion between the
mound-builders and the inhabitants of ancient Mexico, we will endeavour,
with the aid of Prescott, and other writers, to ascertain something
of the faith professed by Montezuma and his subjects. Derived from two
sources, there were two distinct elements in the Mexican religion; one
of these was gentle and mild as the teaching of Christ, and the other,
ferocious and cruel, like the practice of such of his followers as
the sensual Crusaders, the persecuting Popes of Italy, and the brutal,
money-grubbing Spaniards. The former gradually dried up, like primitive
Christianity, and the harmlessness of the dove was replaced by the
ferocity of the wolf. It is in strict accordance with human nature,
that virtues are harder to maintain than vices, hence malignancy swelled
itself up and became dominant. The priests of the sanguinary class
contrived as burdensome a ceremonial as ever existed in Judea,
Greece, Spain, or Modern Rome, and they surrounded their deities with
conceptions as grotesque as those which are clustered round the Hindoo
gods of to-day, the divinities of the Greeks and Romans, and the
innumerable virgins, saints, and martys of mediaeval and modern papal
Christianity. The power and the inclination to make fetish is certainly
not confined to African negroes. The Mexicans recognized a supreme
Creator as the God by whom we live, one who was, for them, omnipresent
and omniscient--the giver of all good things, "without whom man is as
nothing." He was said to be "invisible, incorporeal, a being of absolute
perfection and perfect purity," "under whose wings men may find repose
and a sure defence." But this deity, though single, was subdivided
by the Mexican theologians, much in the same way as Jehovah became
separated into an innumerable host of angels, archangels, and devils,
and as Zeus was split up into an equally numerous army of gods,
goddesses, and demigods. The Mexicans had thirteen major, and about two
hundred minor, divinities, to one or other of whom each day was devoted,
much in the same way as certain modern Christians believe in one
Creator, four persons, three of whom are male and the other female,
seven archangels, and some hundreds of saints, virgins, or martyrs, to
each of whom one day of the year is consecrated. There are more gods and
goddesses in the Papal calendar than in that of Ancient Mexico, Greece,
or even Rome.

At the head of the celestial army was "the god of war," "the patron of
the kingdom," whose temples were more noble in their barbaric majesty
than any other, and to whom human beings were sacrificed in abundance.
They were the noblest creatures that could be found, and in truth, there
were very few other animals to offer in their place.

This great Mexican divinity was essentially the same as the _Jehovah
Tsebaoth_ of the Hebrew Scriptures; the Lord of Hosts of whom we read in
Exod. xv. 3, "The Lord (Jehovah) is a man of war, the Lord (Jehovah) is
His name;" and in Ps. xxiv. 8, "Who is this King of glory?--the Lord,
strong and mighty; the Lord, mighty in battle;" and again, the same idea
appears in verse 10 of the same Psalm; see also 1 Chron. xvii. 24, "The
Lord of Hosts is the God of Israel." Indeed, we should weary the reader
if we were to quote all the texts to be found in the Old Testament,
which prove that the Hebrew Jehovah was as much a god of war as was the
chief deity of the Mexicans. Modern civilization may frame the belief
that God is not "the author of confusion, but of peace" (1 Cor. xiv.
33); but the Hebrews in the East, and the Mexicans in the West, held a
different opinion. Besides the god of war there was a god of the air,
who once lived on earth, and taught metallurgy, agriculture, and the
art of government. He was essentially a human benefactor, who caused the
earth to teem with fruit and flowers, without the trouble of laborious
cultivation--his reign was analogous to the golden age of the Greeks and
Romans. But he was not wholly satisfactory, and was banished; yet he is
to have a second coming, like Elias, and a modern deity of the Eastern
world. His portrait is identical, apparently, with the commonly received
likeness of Jesus. In Christian mythology (see Eph. ii. 2), "the prince
of the power of the air" is regarded as "the adversary," or a devil.
No other deities are described in detail by Prescott, but he says that
every household had its "penates," or household gods. On turning
to Higgins, who quotes entirely from Lord Kingsborough's _Mexican
Antiquities_, we find that the Mexicans baptized their children with
what they called "water of regeneration." Their king also danced before
his god, as David did, to his chaste wife's disgust, and was consecrated
and anointed by the high priest with a holy unction as Saul and the
son of Jesse were. On one day of the year all the fires in the Mexican
kingdom were extinguished and lighted again from one sacred hearth in
the temple, which again reminds us of the Vestal Virgins, whose business
was to keep up a holy fire in Rome, and of the lamp which was to burn
perpetually in the Jewish temple (Exod. xxvii. 20). At the end of October
the Mexicans had a feast resembling our "All Souls," or "Saints," day,
which was called "the festival of advocates," because each human being
had an advocate in the heaven above to plead for him, which again
reminds us of Jesus' dictum, that children have guardian angels, who are
always in God's presence (Matt, xviii. 10)

The same people had a forty-days' fast, in honour of a god who was
tempted forty days upon a mountain, and thus resembled the Prophet of
Nazareth. He was called the morning star, and thus is to be identified
with Lucifer as well as Jesus (Isa. xiv. 12, Rev. xxii. 16), and carried
a reed for an emblem (see Eev. xxi. 15). The Mexicans honoured a cross,
and the god of air was represented sometimes as nailed to one, and even
occasionally between two other individuals.*

     * As we cannot imagine that the Mexicans were aware of the
     manner in which modern Christians depict Jesus on the cross,
     we most, I think, seek for some idea which was common to
     both the East and West. In Payne Knight's work, so often
     referred to by us, there is a picture which represents a
     cock with a lingam instead of a head and beak; on its
     pediment there is in Greek the words, soteer kosmou, "the
     saviour of the world." This is also an epithet of Siva, and
     he is sometimes represented as a phallus. In this he is the
     Asher or Bel of the Assyrian triad, erected higher than the
     other two. In Christian history the outsiders are said to be
     thieves, but it was not so in Mexico.    The three crosses
     are simply emblems of the "trinity."

A virgin and child were also adored, as they were in Babylonia, Assyria,
Egypt, and Hindostan, and as they are in a great part of Europe at the
present time. The people believed in vast cycles of years, at the end
of each of which there was to be a general destruction of life, and a
perfect regeneration, an idea which Higgins has shown to have existed
amongst Persians, Romans, and Jews alike. The Mexicans still further
believed in a threefold future state--a heaven for the brave, and those
who were sacrificed, there being, so far as I can discover, no abstract
idea of what we call "virtue"; a hell for the wicked; and a sort of
quiet limbo for those who were in no way distinguished. Heaven was
located in the sun, and the blessed were permitted to revel amongst
lovely clouds and singing birds, enjoying, unharmed, all the charms of
nature: a conception which is to the full as poetical, and, probably,
quite as near the truth, as that given in "Revelation." When a man died
he was burned, and, if rich, his slaves were sacrificed with him, the
Mexicans, in this respect, resembling the ancient Scythians, with whom
they had much in common. When the ceremony of giving a name to children
was gone through, their lips and bosom were sprinkled with water, and
the Lord was implored to permit the holy drops to wash away the sin that
was given to the child before the foundation of the world, so that the
infant might be born anew, or, in modern terms, regenerated (Prescott,
ch. 3). Amongst their prayers, or invocations, were the formulas, "Wilt
Thou blot us out, O Lord, for ever? Is this punishment intended, not for
our reformation, but for our destruction?" again, "Impart to us, out of
Thy great mercy, Thy gifts which we are not worthy to receive through
our own merits;" "Keep peace with all;" "Bear injuries with humility,
God who sees will avenge you;" "He who looks too curiously on a woman
commits adultery with eyes." These Mexican maxims so closely resemble
those to be found in the Bible, that it is difficult to believe that the
Spaniards really told the truth respecting them. The sacerdotal order
amongst the Mexicans was a numerous one, well arranged and powerful. The
priests used musical choirs in their worship, arranged the calendar, and
appointed the time for festivals. They superintended the education of
youth, and wrote up the traditions, like the "recorders" of the Jews,
Persians, other Orientals, and Christian monks, and looked to the
conservancy of the hieroglyphic paintings. There were two high priests,
who alone had to undertake the duty of offering human sacrifices,
and these were elected by the king and nobles, quite irrespective
of previous rank, and, when elected, they were inferior only to the
sovereign. When reading this, anyone who is familiar with biblical
history will bethink him of Luke iii. 3, "Annas and Caiaphas being the
high priests," the plural, not the singular, number being used, and of
the dictum of Caiaphas, John xi. 50, "It is expedient for us that one
man should die for the people, that the whole nation perish not." We
may put what construction we please upon these facts, but, whatever
interpretation we may adopt, we must acknowledge that the Hebrews, at
the time when our era commences, had two high priests who were concerned
in human sacrifice.

The priests, in general, were devoted to the service of some particular
deity, and, during the time of their attendance, lived in the temple,
celibate; but, when not on duty, they resided with their wives and
families. Thrice during the day, and once at some period of the night,
they were called to prayer, much like all the varieties of Christian
monks and nuns. They were frequent in their ablutions, in which habit
they may be contrasted with those saintly hermits, who regarded dirt as
a divine ordinance, and never washed; and they mortified the flesh by
long vigils, fasting, and cruel penance, drawing blood from their bodies
by flagellation, or by piercing them with the thorns of the aloe. The
resemblance of the Mexican sacerdotalism with Jewish and Christian
customs is thus shown to be wonderful and striking, so much so, that
the Spaniards started the idea that they had been taught by some
stray apostle of Jesus. The great cities of Mexico were divided into
districts, each of which was placed under the charge of a sort of
parochial clergy, who regulated every act of religion within their
precincts, and who administered the rites of confession and absolution.
The secrets of the confessional were held inviolable, and penances were
imposed, of much the same kind as those enjoined by the Roman Catholic
Church upon her votaries.

It was a tenet of Mexican faith, that a sin once atoned for, was, if
repeated, inexpiable a second time; consequently, confession was only
once resorted to, and that late in life; a good plan, upon the whole,
for it enabled a man whose days were numbered to get pardon "for good
and aye." It was also held that sacerdotal absolution was equivalent
to magisterial punishment. The formula of absolution contained this,
amongst other things, "O merciful Lord, Thou who knowest the secrets of
all hearts, let Thy forgiveness and favour descend, like the pure waters
of heaven, to wash away the stains from the soul. Thou knowest that this
poor man has sinned, not from his own free will, but from the influence
of the sign under which he was born." This idea may well be compared
with the current doctrine of the phrenologists, many of whom assert that
a man acts according to the configuration of his brain and cranium, and
is, therefore, only partially culpable for the commission of certain
crimes. After a copious exhortation to the penitent, in which he was
enjoined to undergo a variety of mortifications, and to perform minute
ceremonies, by way of penance, he was particularly urged to procure,
with the smallest possible delay, a slave, who was to be utilized in
sacrifice to the Deity; the priest then concluded with inculcating
charity to the poor--"Clothe the naked, and feed the hungry, whatever
privations it may cost thee, for remember their flesh is like thine."

The necessity of sacrifice, as an atonement for sin, forms an essential,
though bloody, part of both the Hebrew and the Christian faiths, and
history has long taught us that the slaughter of a man, woman, or child,
formed, in the estimation of the Ancient Greeks, and other nations, one
of the most acceptable of the forms of homage paid by a human being to
the Creator. This idea is at the very basis of the Christian theology.
It has been held, from the time of the apostle Paul to the present day,
that Jehovah would not look favourably upon mankind until He had been
propitiated, not by the sacrifice of an ordinary individual, but by the
murder, in the crudest of modes, of a being whom He personally begat,
for the purpose of killing him when arrived at maturity. In Hebrews
x. 12, we find this doctrine very distinctly enunciated, in the words,
"this man, after he had offered one sacrifice of sins for ever, sat down
on the right hand of God," and subsequently, v. 14, "by one offering he
hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified." Again, in Heb. ix.
26, "once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by
the sacrifice of himself;" and in Heb. x. 10, "we are sanctified through
the offering of the body of Jesus Christ;" and in ix. 28, "Christ
was once offered to bear the sins of many." The philosopher may doubt
whether the God whom the Christians have made for their own adoration,
is in any way different to that of King Mesha, who offered up his own
son in sacrifice, or to the Mexican one, who was contented with the
blood of a slave.*

     * It is doubtful whether any Christian has ever paid real
     attention to the doctrines which are familiar to his ear, or
     to the hymns which an most frequently on his tongue. In the
     usual fashion which is prevalent amongst ministers and
     hearers, everything which is told by missionaries of heathen
     deities is taken as true. Thus it has become the general
     belief that the Mexican theology, which required an annual
     sacrifice of human beings, whose hearts were cut out, and
     offered warm, palpitating and full of blood, to a God who
     was supposed to be present in a sacred stone statue, was
     beyond measure atrocious. But in what consists the horror,
     unless in the fact that the sacrifice was seen by the
     worshippers? In Christendom people are never called upon to
     see a man killed by nailing him to a cross. If they were
     condemned to this penance, very little would any of them
     talk of blood. As it is, the minds of the majority are
     lulled to sleep by the substitution of words for facts, and
     texts of Scripture for ideas; and those who are unable to
     look upon a cut finger without fainting, and would not for
     worlds go to see a man decapitated, talk in the serenest
     manner on most sanguinary topics. A reference to a few hymns
     which are general favourites will illustrate what I mean. In
     "Rock of Ages," for example, we have the lines--

     "Let the water and the blood
     From thy riven side that flowed,
     Cleanse from sin and make me pure."

     Another equally popular hymn begins

     "From Calv'ry's cross a fountain flows
     Of water and of blood,
     More healing than Bethesda's pool,
     Redeeming Lord, thy precious blood
     Shall never lose its power..." and again--

     "There is a fountain filled with blood,
     Drawn from Immanuels veins,
     And sinners plunged beneath that flood
     Lose all their guilty stains."

     No congregation of Christian, or any other men, would
     tolerate for a moment the introduction into divine worship
     of a bath of blood, into which all those should plunge who
     desired salvation. Not one would endeavour to wash his sins
     away in a sanguine stream, drawn from any source whatever.
     The horror which would be produced by the doctrine that such
     things are necessary to appease our God, would make every
     thinking being detest it. Yet, when we only play with the
     idea, we can talk of such matters with holy complacency. If
     any Christian wants to test his faith, let me advise him to
     get a basinful of blood and place it in his bed-room, and
     say twice a day, when looking on it, that's the stuff which
     propitiates my God! It would not be long ere he saw the
     absurdity of his theological tenets, and the coarseness of
     the hierarchy which invented so frightful an idea of the

For the education of the youth of Mexico a part of the temples was
allotted, where the boys and girls of the middle and higher classes were
placed at an early period--the girls to be taught by the priestesses,
the boys by priests; and from a note in Prescott's corrected edition,
1866, p. 22, we learn that the former were even more generally pure
in life than, we have reason to believe, the Egyptian priestesses and
Christian nuns proved themselves to be, Father Acosto saying, "In truth,
it is very strange to see that this false opinion of religion hath so
great force amongst these young men and maidens of Mexico, that they
will serve the Devil with so great vigour and austerity, which many
of us do not in the service of the most high God, the which is a great
shame and confusion." It is curious to notice how the Christian priest
considers that chastity may be a snare of the Devil, as well as an
ordinance of Jehovah. The boys, in these scholastic parts of the sacred
temples, were taught the routine of monastic discipline--to decorate the
shrines of the gods with flowers, to feed the sacred fires, and to chant
in worship and at festivals. The Abbé Hue, in an account of his travels
in Thibet and Tartary, has told us repeatedly of the similarity between
the rites, practices, and ceremonies of the Romish Church and those in
use amongst the followers of the Great Lama. It is equally marvellous to
discover that the Mexican ritual resembles both. The Papalist endeavours
to explain this, by the monstrous assumption that both Tartary and
Mexico were evangelized by two different Christian Apostles. But it
seems to us more probable that the Romanists, who are known to have
adopted almost every ancient ceremony, symbol, doctrine, and the like,
have unknowingly copied from travelled Orientals, than that the cult of
the people of Thibet has travelled into America, as well as into Europe.
Into the identity of the Tartars with the Red Indians it is not my
intention to enter. The higher Mexicans were taught traditionary lore,
the mysteries of hieroglyphics, the principles of government, and
such astronomical and scientific knowledge as the priests would, or,
probably, could, impart. The girls learned to weave and embroider
coverings for the altars of the gods. Great attention was paid to
morality, and offences were punished with extreme rigour, even with
death itself. Youths were taught to eschew, vice and cleave to virtue,
to abstain from wrath, to offer violence or do wrong to no man, and to
do good where possible.

When of an age to marry, the pupils were dismissed from the convent, and
the recommendation of the principal thereof often introduced those
whom he regarded as the most competent of the students, to responsible
situations in public life. Such was the policy of the Mexican priests,
who were thus enabled to mould the mind of the young, and to train it
early to the necessity of giving reverence to religion, and especially
to its ministers--a reverence which maintained its hold on the warrior
long after every other vestige of education had been effaced. In this
matter America showed an astuteness equal to that exhibited by Papal
hierarchs in Rome.

To each of the principal temples, lands were annexed, for the
maintenance of the priests, and these glebes were augmented by
successive princes, until, under Montezuma, they were of enormous
extent, and covered every district of the* empire. The priests took the
management of their property into their own hands, and treated their
tenants with liberality and indulgence. In addition to this source of
income, they had "first fruits," and other offerings, dictated by piety
or superstition. The surplus was distributed in alms amongst the poor,
a duty strenuously prescribed by their moral code. Thus we find, adds
Prescott, whom we are closely, and almost verbatim, following, the
same religion inculcating lessons of pure philanthropy and of merciless
extermination--an inconsistency not incredible to those familiar with
the history of the Roman Catholic Church in the early ages of the

In the course of a not very long life, I have heard, upon many
occasions, the argument that the persistency of the Roman Catholic
Church, in spite of its abominable corruptions, its utter contempt for
truth, its outrageous cruelty, its glaring superstition, its intolerable
arrogance, and its rapacious covetousness, proves that it is, and must
ever be regarded as a divine institution. But this argument loses all
its weight when we find that the religion of the Mexicans, which the
Spaniards declared to have sprung from the Devil, had the virtues, as
well as many vices, of the Roman faith. If one came from Heaven, the
other could not have come from Hell. The simple truth seems to be, that
crafty and designing men are always able to find dupes, and that red men
and black, the haughty Italian and the lively Frenchman, the stolid boor
and the polished orator, may all suffer alike from an education which
has taught them, in youth, to believe in the reality of a revelation
given to a class of human beings who, by its means, assume to be divine.

The Mexican temples--_teocallis_, or "houses of God "--were very
numerous, indeed there were several hundreds in each of the principal
cities of the kingdom; but we need not describe them more minutely than
to say that they were truncated pyramids terminating in a level surface,
upon which blazed the sacred fire. All religious services were public,
as in Roman Catholic countries. There were long processions of priests,
and numerous festivals of unusual sacredness, as well as monthly and
daily appropriate celebrations of worship, so that it is difficult to
conceive how the ordinary business of life was carried on. The sun was
an universal object of reverence. At a period not long prior (about 200
years) to the Spanish conquest, human sacrifices were adopted for the
first time, and they speedily became common, both as regards repetition
and the numbers of victims slaughtered. In some instances the oblations
terminated with cannibalism. The burnt offering was roasted, not
incinerated, and, like the Paschal lamb, was devoutly devoured. Sexual
rites, symbols, or worship, appear to have been very rare, for I can
only find one or two doubtful references to them. In this matter the
Mexicans were far superior to all the old Shemitic and Egyptian, as well
as the Hindoo, races. So far Prescott.

Whilst writing the foregoing, it has required some determination not to
comment very extensively upon the facts recorded, for they do, indeed,
set the thoughtful mind on fire. Amongst the questions which they
provoke, the first is, "how far the accounts given to us are to be
depended upon?" In answering this query, we readily recognize that our
authorities can only have been Spaniards, who were, to a great extent,
implacable enemies of the Mexicans, to a great extent ignorant of their
language, and bitterly hostile to them in matters of religion. But this
recognition leads us to trust the accounts which they give, for, if the
invaders had been able to treat the natives as unmitigated savages,
they would have had the more excuse for pillaging their sacred stores,
temples, and palaces, and exterminating the pagan worshippers. Again, if
the picture thus painted were a fancy one, having no real existence save
in the mind of the writer, we should be able readily to recognize its
counterpart in the Spanish history of the Peruvians, just as we are able
to ascertain the identity of the authorship of certain anonymous works
by Lord Lytton, by the existence therein of his marked peculiarity of
style. The best testimony, however, to the substantial truth of the
accounts given of the nature of the Mexican faith, is to be found in
various minute episodes of their general history, in the behaviour of
the Aztecs with each other, and towards their invaders, and the general
customs which are recorded. That the Spanish writers had a real belief
in the account of which Prescott has given us so admirable a resume, we
may feel assured, for one of them introduced the naïve remark, "that the
Devil had positively taught to the Mexicans the same things which God
had taught to Christendom."

When once we have satisfied ourselves of the truth of the Spanish
accounts of the ancient Mexican institutions, we find ourselves in the
presence of some very striking religious and political facts. We see
before us a nation who had attained to as distinct a conception of the
Almighty as we have ourselves; who had discovered a heaven, a hell,
and an intermediate place, without the assistance of Jew or Greek,
Babylonian or Persian; who had instituted a sacerdotal class, and made
provision for their subsistence, without any assistance from Melchizedek
or Moses; who had adopted a principle of national education long before
such a thing was thought of in England, or in Europe. In fine, the Aztec
faith and policy were, at least, as praiseworthy, if not far nearer to
perfection, than the faith and policy which obtained in Christian Italy,
France, and Spain, during the dark and the middle ages. There is not,
indeed, any one point in which the contrast is not favourable to the
Aztecs, except in the single point of human sacrifice. Christianity can,
apparently, make a heavy accusation against the Aztec religion on this
point, and may fairly seem to reproach it for that frequency of human
sacrifice, and even cannibalism, which formed, at the time of the
Spanish conquest, an essential part of the Mexican faith.

Yet, when we dive below the surface, and examine this matter with
philosophic care, we readily see that the charge is deprived of much of
its weight. Who, for example, can compare the practice of the people
of Montezuma with that of Spaniards under the sway of Ferdinand and
Isabella, without seeing that in Spain there were human sacrifices,
which were conducted with far more cruelty than those in Mexico. We
find, in the first place, that the custom of sacrificing human
beings was no more an essential part of the Aztec, than it was of the
Christian, faith; it was only in existence two hundred years before the
Spanish invasion, and many centuries, bloodless of human offerings, had
passed away ere the period of what we may term brutality arrived. Just
so it was with the religion of Jesus; for centuries it was unstained by
blood, and comparatively meek and humble, yet, when its priesthood rose
to power, they indulged in human holocausts on a most extended scale.
The Spaniards give accounts of thousands of victims offered up at once
to the Mexican god of war; but what are these in comparison to the
victims of Paris, sacrificed by Papists on the eve and day of St.
Bartholomew, and those at Beziers.

It may be doubted by the philosopher whether the Christian religion
was not, from its very commencement, as intolerant of opposition and as
persecuting as it became hereafter.

The story of Jesus cursing a fig tree, which did not bear fruit out
of its season (Mark xi. 13, 14, 21), shows that even he, whom the
Christians take for an example, was quite capable of that pettiness,
which visits upon the innocent the vexation felt by one's self. But when
we read the story in Acts, v., about Ananias and Sapphira, we see, in
all its naked horror, a fearful Christian persecution. The victims were
done to death for deceiving an apostle. But why should we be surprised
at the followers of "the Son" doing that which "the Father" ordained? Is
there any human king who ever promulgated a more bloody order than did
Jehovah Sabaoth, the God which, amongst the Hebrews, corresponded to the
Mexican god of war, when he commissioned Samuel to say to Saul (1 Sam.
xv. 3), "Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they
have; slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel
and ass!" After such a destruction of the Midianites as is narrated
in Numb, xxxi., the fearful slaughter, effected by Crusaders, of Jews,
Turks, and heretics is scarcely worth mentioning.

There was a teacher who remarked, "he who is without sin among you,
let him first cast a stone" at the culprit; and surely, when our Bible,
which is treasured by so many as the only rule of faith amongst us,
details such horrible religious slaughters as are to be found in its
pages, and abounds with persecuting precepts, we had better not talk too
much about Mexican sacrifice. Was there any Aztec minister so brutal in
his religious fury as Samuel was (1 Sam. xv. 33), who hewed Agag into
pieces? The Mexican was merciful to his victim; the Hebrew was like
a modern Chinese executioner, who kills the criminal by degrees. His
cruelty has been emulated in Christian France, and under the reign of
two of her kings, we have seen a Ravaillac and Damiens tortured slowly
to death, by means too horrible to dwell upon.

The writers upon Mexico tell us of a lovely youth, who was educated for
a whole year to become a victim, and how, at the end of that time, he
was feted, adorned, and even worshipped; how four of the most charming
maidens of Mexico were selected as his wives, and how he remained in the
enjoyment of the highest honour until the time of his sacrifice arrived,
and we feel due horror at the recital. Yet, what is it compared with the
accounts we read of miserable men and women racked, in hideous dungeons,
by the most horrible tortures which an enlightened Christian ingenuity
could devise, and who then, with limbs whose loosened fibres could
scarcely sustain their bruised and mangled bodies, were led, or driven
at the sword's point, to a stake fixed in the ground, there to be tied
and burned, whilst devout Christian multitudes stood around, rejoicing,
like demons, over the hellish scene.

No one can gloat over the imaginary torments of Hell without being a
persecuting devil at heart.

Surely the Christians have too much sin amongst themselves to cast a
stone at the inhabitants of Mexico.

We find a strong offset to the horror of Aztec cruelty in the very
Bible, which we regard as the mainstay of our religious world. What,
for example, is the essential difference between a Mexican monarch
sacrificing one or ten thousand men taken in battle, and Moses
commanding the extermination of the inhabitants of Canaan, and only
saving, out of Midian, thirty-two thousand virgins, that they might
minister to the lust of his Hebrew followers? What, again, are we to say
of David's God, who would not turn away his anger from Judah until
seven sons of the preceding king had been offered up as victims? And
lastly--thought still more awful! what must we say of the fundamental
doctrines of Christianity, that Jehovah Himself sacrificed His own Son
by a cruel death; and not only so, but that He had intercourse with
an earthly woman, and had thus a son by her, for the sole purpose of
bringing about his murder? Can we object to religious cannibalism in the
Aztec, when Jesus of Nazareth is said to have urged his followers to eat
his body and to drink his blood; and when hundreds of priests have shed
the blood of millions of men, who, disbelieving the power of any man
to convert bread and wine into flesh and blood, have refused to profane
their lips by a cannibal feast?

Having now examined the nature of the Aztec faith, let us, for a while,
linger upon the fruits which it produced. Who can read the mournful
story of the fall of Mexico without contrasting, in his own mind, the
respective characters of the conquerors and the conquered? In every
so-called Christian virtue Montezuma proved himself to be superior
to the lying, unscrupulous, rapacious and covetous Cortez. Even the
greatest fire-eater who ever lived cannot fail to see that the Spaniard
would not have been victorious over the Mexican, if the latter had been
equally well equipped with arms, armour, and horses, as the former was.
We can only tell vaguely what was the condition of Anahuac prior to
the invasion of Cortez; but, from the testimony given by Prescott, we
believe that there were annual wars between adjoining tribes, who met
solely to obtain from their enemies victims for sacrifice, the battles
always ending with the day, and never being resumed for conquest, or for
the plunder of maidens to be an indulgence of a victor's lust. What the
condition of the same country under Christian rule has been, and still
is, every reader of modern and contemporary history knows; and he sees,
with regret, that Jehovah Sabaoth, Jesus of Nazareth, and the Holy
Spirit, with an army of saints, angels, virgins, and martyrs, as well as
ancient gods of the Eastern Hemisphere are, if they are to be judged by
the acts of their worshippers, as cruel, revengeful, and malignant, as
were the deities of the Mexican kingdom.

The followers of the cross will appear to be quite as despicable when
we contrast them with the Peruvians, as they were when compared with the
inhabitants of Anahuac.

There is something very fascinating in the history of Peru, as recorded
by the Spanish authors, and rendered into the English language by
Prescott. There is no account of ancient or modern people extant which
has interested me so much as those of the realm of Manco Capac. To hear
of a nation, separated by an ocean, we may, indeed, say two, and a vast
continent, from the civilized portions of Asia, Europe, and Africa,
located in a mountainous tract, where soil and water were scanty, and
locomotion was rendered difficult from the configuration of the land;
whose country was surrounded by strong natural enemies of all kinds;
whose people were unable to use such agents as steel and gunpowder, and
who were yet enabled to construct vast cities and temples, to quarry,
remove, and use in buildings, fragments of rock thirty-eight feet long,
eighteen feet broad, and six feet thick, and to transport these to
distances varying from 12 to 45 miles, to form good roads along the
mountain tops, for an extent of nearly two thousand miles, necessitating
the filling up chasms of enormous depth, and the making of suspension
bridges over rivers whose stream was too furious to bridge in the
ordinary European fashion, is perfectly astonishing.

The far-sighted Incas, to make these roads still more useful,
accompanied them by the erection of large residences, like modern
European bungalows in India, fit for the reception of a monarch with
his army, and by vast magazines of provisions, sufficient to supply
the wants of a warlike expedition, or of a population starving from an
accidental failure of crops. The Peruvians, moreover, surrounded their
chief towns with strong walls, in comparison with which the Cyclopean
constructions of the old world seem small, stunted, and almost
contemptible. It appears, in addition, that they knew how to form
long tunnels, either for the passage of troops, for the benefit of
travellers, or for the conveyance of water. All these, I say, are enough
to fire the imagination of the dullest reader of history, and to shake
the belief that civilization cannot be developed in the midst of what we
have been accustomed to call savage life, and can only be brought to
a moderate perfection by the influence of the Hebrew and Christian

Our wonder is not, however, bounded by the physical results produced by
the industrious population of Peru, it is still farther exercised by
the descriptions which are given of their wonderful domestic and foreign
policy. It would be difficult to conceive, and still more difficult
to carry into execution for many generations, a plan of government so
eminently fitted to give the greatest happiness to the greatest number,
as that which the Incas elaborated. The rulers were specially educated
to fulfil their duties in every respect, and were not permitted, as
modern princes are, to enter into the ranks of chivalry until they had
undergone a public examination, which was conducted by the oldest and
the most illustrious chiefs. The trial included tests of every warlike
and manly quality. It lasted thirty days, during which time every
competitor fared alike, living on the bare ground, and wearing a mean
attire. Those who passed the ordeal honourably were admitted formally
into the knightly order, the ceremony including an investiture of the
youth with sandals put on by the most venerable noble, equivalent to
the donning of the _toga virilis_ in Ancient Rome, and having the ear
pierced with a golden bodkin by the reigning monarch. To take off the
shoe was a ceremony exacted from all those who came into the Inca's
presence, to have it put on by a grandee was great honour.

That the rulers might understand the condition of the kingdom, they
systematically travelled, much in the same way as James V. of Scotland,
and the Caliph Haroun Alraschid, are said to have done. The Incas, in
addition to their other plans for good government, inaugurated a
postal system: divided their peoples into tens, fifties, hundreds, five
hundreds, thousands, and ten thousands, much in the same way as the
Saxon King Alfred is said to have done, whose plan is, in many respects,
conserved to the present day; and the head man of each division was in
all respects its ruler, to repress crime, to announce to his superior
officer all unusual occurrences, and to report, generally, the actual
state of his division to the chief above him. All legal trials,
or appeals, were decided in less than five days, and a code was
established, which all might readily know, a thing only attained by the
French under the first Napoleon, and long desired by England, but in
vain. Punishments were never attended with torture, or unnecessary
cruelty. In this respect the Peruvians differed from every other
civilized nation of which I have yet read. The Chinaman methodically
inflicts painful punishments which have only been surpassed by the
followers of the "gentle Jesus." The Persians and Turks have, certainly,
shown their capacity for giving pain to those who are brought before
their ministers of justice, and the Red Indians, during their day,
reduced the art of tormenting themselves, but, still more, their
prisoners, almost to perfection. The Babylonians had discovered that a
death of agony could be accomplished by means of myriads of ants. It was
reserved to Christians, eager to uphold the faith promulgated by a God
of mercy, to find out the most exquisite of torments. Even Frenchmen,
who have for centuries assumed the position of leaders of civilization,
were, until the great Revolution beat down their kings and prelates,
more ruthlessly cruel than the most fierce redskin. The Inquisition,
which arrogated to itself the power to keep the Christian religion pure,
was distinguished by the atrocity with which it gave anguish to its
victims, and it held its head high until it was put down, we may hope
for ever, by fiery republican enthusiasts, whom priestly demons, baulked
of their prey, declared to be devils incarnate. More modern hierarchs
are obliged to content themselves with making a hell for their
enemies--with foretelling a variety of punishments to be inflicted
hereafter, which cannot be enforced here.

The Incas exacted an annual report of the lands possessed by
individuals, with their condition as regards culture; and also of every
family. A register of births, marriages, and deaths was regularly kept,
so that the government might always know the real condition of the
nation, soil, and people.

As far as possible, families remained constant to their business, thus
forming a sort of trade caste, but not a rigid one. The registers were
always submitted to the perusal of the Inca, and, subsequently, kept in
the capital.

By the arrangement of "posts," and roads, an insurrection or invasion
was readily discovered, and it was speedily announced at the capital
city. The march of troops to suppress it, under these circumstances, was
easy and immediate, for every requisite for war was always at hand. In
all circumstances, plundering by the soldiery, whether at home or in an
enemy's country, was severely punished, and war was undertaken solely
with a view to peace. If a neighbour was turbulent, he was conquered,
and absorbed into the old state, and if a province was rebellious, its
worst inhabitants were carried away to some other locality, where their
power for mischief would be curtailed; a plan which, we are told, was
pursued by the Assyrian Shalmaneser (2 Kings xvii. 6), indicated by
Sennacherib (2 Kings xviii. 32), and carried out by Nebuzaradan (2 Kings
xxv. 11.). In fine, we may repeat, that it would be difficult for a
modern philosopher to conceive a better model of a really paternal
government than that which, it is asserted, was found by the Spaniards
when they invaded the kingdom of the Incas. Of the respective value of
Christian Spanish government, and of the so-called Pagan Inca rule, none
can doubt, who reads the present by the light of the past. The Peruvians
kept up their roads, protected their subjects, respected life, and
fostered everything which tended to increase the general happiness
and prosperity of the kingdom--all these objects, have been for a long
period neglected, and Peru, which was under the Spanish rule, one of
the blots on the face of civilization and Christianity, is only
just emerging from a long night, under the influence of Republican

Our next step will be to ascertain the religion of the people whose
political condition contrasts so favourably with that of every other
nation of whom travel and history have informed us. But we may, in the
first place, remark, that there is no absolute or necessary connection
between the happiness, or otherwise, of a nation and its dominant
religion, as Buckle has already shown in his _History of Civilization_.
The writer of to-day can find abundant evidence in recent history to
illustrate the proposition here advanced. He can point to France,
and its condition under a sacerdotal rule, prior to the time of the
Revolution, and contrast it with its state since its rulers have
tried to make the people prosperous and happy, independently of their
religious faith. He can point to Austria and Spain, when they were laid
at the feet of the Pope of Rome, and everything was made subservient to
the demands of a powerful hierarchy, and to the same states now, when
religion is subordinate to the material welfare of the majority. Who,
that has read the story of modern Italy, or heard of the atrocities
committed under the priest-led Ferdinand of Naples--better known in
England by the sobriquet of Bomba; who, that knew anything of his
brigand-rearing towns and cities, and has visited them since they have
been ruled constitutionally, and with the priestly power curbed by a
strong hand, can doubt which set of directors are the best? Christian
Rome was never so happy under her Popes as she is now, when the
so-called head of the church is subordinate to the chief of the state.
But of all priest-ridden countries, one which would never have borne the
popish sway as she has done, if her chieftains had been sensible and
her people thoughtful, Ireland deserves our commiseration the most.
Hibernian hierarchs of the Roman faith designate their country as a
land of saints. So, perhaps, it is, if by the word is meant admirers of
laziness and filth, who consider that attention to religion justifies
murder, and every brutal crime against purse, person, and property.

As a rule, admitting of no exceptions, civil government has preceded
sacerdotal rule, and a nation is generally in a weakly and fallen
condition as soon as its affairs are directed by the priestly class.
When first the Aryans invaded Hindostan, the hierarchy was second to the
warrior caste; but as the first aggrandized their power, the second lost
their supremacy, and under Brahminic rule the foundation was laid for
pusillanimous and indolent luxury in the warrior. The power to plan,
and the nerve to enforce laws, for the benefit of all classes of the
community, is very different to that which is requisite to exalt and
enrich the priestly order; and the well-being of a state depends far
more upon the exercise of the first than of the second. Whenever,
therefore, the executive government is entirely independent of the
influence of the hierarchy, or is itself the head of that caste, it can
produce good results for the nation, no matter what may be the dogmas of
the priesthood, or the nature of the gods which are reverenced.

Still following Prescott as our guide, we find that the sun was the
great god of the Peruvians, and that the Incas assumed the title of his
true children. To that luminary a vast temple was built in Cuzco, more
radiant with gold than that of Solomon at Jerusalem. To Cuzco, as to the
capital of Judea, the name of Holy City was given, and to it pilgrims
resorted from every part of the empire. Blasphemy against the sun was
considered as bad as treason against the Inca, and both were punished
with death. A province, or city, rebellious against the sun was laid
waste, and its people exterminated. When conquest over a new tribe
subjugated it to Peru, the people were compelled to worship the sun,
temples to whose honour were erected in their territory. To these was
attached a body of priests, to instruct the people in the proper form
of adoration, which consisted in a rich and stately ceremonial. The
divinities of the conquered people were removed to Cuzco and established
in one of the temples, where they took order amongst the inferior
deities of the Peruvians.

But, though the sun was unquestionably worshipped, Prescott observes,
ch. iii, "it is a remarkable fact that many, if not most, of the rude
tribes inhabiting the vast American continent had attained to the
sublime conception of one Great Spirit, the Creator of the universe,
who, immaterial in his own nature, ought not to be dishonoured by an
attempt at a visible representation, and who, pervading all space, was
not to be circumscribed within the walls of any building, however grand
or rich."

As civilization progressed, we are told that a separate order of men,
with a liberal provision for their subsistence, was set apart for
religious service, and a minute and magnificent ceremonial contrived,
which challenged comparison with that of the most polished nations of
Christendom. This was the case with the natives of Quita, Bogota, and
others inhabiting the highlands of South America, but especially with
the Peruvians, who claimed a divine origin for the founders of their
empire, whose laws rested on a divine sanction, and whose domestic
institutions and foreign wars were directed to preserve and to propagate
their faiths. Religion was the basis of their polity, the condition of
their social existence. The government of the Incas was essentially a
lay theocracy.

The Peruvians believed in the future existence of the soul and the
resurrection of the body. They had faith in a Hell, located in the
earth's centre, and a Heaven, in which the good would revel in a life
of luxury, tranquillity, and ease. The wicked, however, were not to be
hopelessly damned and tormented for everlasting, but were to expiate
their crimes by ages of wearisome labour. They believed, also, in an
evil principle or spirit, called Cupay, to whom, however, they paid no
more attention than an ordinary Christian does to the Devil.

The great men were entombed after death, and were commonly buried with
the chief things which they required on earth. Sometimes a chieftain was
buried, not only with his treasures, but with his wives and domestics.
Frequently, over the dead, vast mounds were raised, which were
honeycombed, subsequently, with cells for the burial of others. Cairns
were as common in that part of the New World as they have been in the
Old, and the majority of buildings found at the present day in Peru have
been connected with funereal pomp.

The supreme Being in Peru was named Pachacamac, "he who gives life to
the universe," and Viracocha, of which the only translation given is
"foam of the sea." To him one temple only was raised, which is said to
have been built prior to the accession of the Incas, and largely visited
by vast numbers of distant Indians. The sun, as we have noticed, was
chiefly venerated, and to him a temple was erected in every city and
large village, and to him burnt offerings were made in abundance. The
moon was also venerated, being connected with the sun as his wife--and
Venus, called by the name of Chasca, "the youth with the long and
curling locks"--was also regarded reverentially as the page of the sun.
Temples were dedicated to thunder and to lightning as God's ministers,
and the rainbow was regarded as an emanation from the great luminary.
In addition to these, the elements, the winds, the earth, the air, the
great mountains and rivers, were considered as inferior deities, to
which were added the gods of the conquered races. The chief temple of
the sun was extraordinarily gorgeous. It was constructed of stone, and
was so finely executed, that a Spaniard declared that only two edifices
in Spain could, in the stone work, be at all compared with it like
Italian and other churches, it contained many small chapels and
subordinate buildings, and the interior was dazzling with gold. On its
western wall the deity was emblazoned as a human face surrounded with
rays of light, just as the sun is personified amongst ourselves.
The figure was engraved on a massy gold plate, thickly powdered with
emeralds and precious stones. This was so situated in front of the
great eastern portal, that the rays of the morning sun, falling upon it,
lighted up the whole temple with a wondrous sheen; but every part of
the inner walls blazed with gold. The roof was, however, "thatch" alone.
Adjoining the temple of the sun were fanes of smaller dimensions, for
the worship of the moon, stars, thunder, lightning, and the rainbow.

"All the plate, ornaments, and utensils of every description
appropriated to the uses of religion, were of gold or silver. Twelve
immense vases of silver (said to be as high as a good lance, and so
large that two men could barely encircle them with outstretched arms)
stood on the floor of the great saloon, filled with Indian corn. The
censers for the perfumes, the ewers which held the water for sacrifice,
the pipes which conducted it through subterraneous channels into
the buildings, the reservoir that received it, even the agricultural
implements used in the gardens of the temple, were all of the same
rich material. The gardens, like those belonging to the royal palaces,
sparkled with gold and silver, and various imitations of the vegetable
kingdom. Animals, also, were to be found there, amongst which the llama,
with its golden fleece, was most conspicuous, executed in the same
style, and with a degree of skill which, in this instance, probably did
not surpass the excellence of the material" The reader of Prescott will
find that he has not adopted this account without carefully estimating
the value of his authorities, and I believe that he may be fairly
trusted. The various reports, given by Spanish writers, of priests of
the grand temple, seem also to have been carefully estimated by the
historian, and the number which they amounted to is put down at four
thousand at the least.

The high priest was second in dignity only to the Inca, and he was
generally closely related to this ruler. The monarch appointed this
Peruvian pope, who held office for life. He had the appointment of
inferior priests, but all must be from the sacred race of Incas. The
high priests of the provinces were always of the blood royal. The
hierarchy wore no peculiar badge or dress, nor was it the sole
depositary of learning, and it had not to superintend education, or to
do parochial work. These duties were performed by others of the Inca
class, all of whom were holy, though not, so to speak, in "holy orders."
The priest's business was to minister in the temple; his science was
confined to a knowledge of the fasts and festivals to be observed in
connection with religion, for these were very numerous, and demanded
separate rituals. The four principal festivals were solar, i.e., at the
equinoxes and solstices, that of Midsummer being the grandest, on which
occasion every one who could find time and money enough to do so visited
the capital city. The feast was preceded by a three days' fast, and no
fires were to be lighted during that period.

When the day arrived a vast array of people, dressed in their handsomest
apparel, crowded the streets and squares, waiting for the rising of the
sun. When it appeared shouts of joy, heightened by instrumental music,
were raised in swelling tones, until the whole orb had ascended above
the horizon, after which a libation was poured of fermented liquor,
and all the nobles and the king repaired to the great temple, each
individual, except members of the royal family, removing their sandals
as they entered. After prayer came sacrifice, animals, grain, flowers,
and sweet-scented gums being the prescribed offerings; sometimes a
child or lovely maiden was also immolated, generally to commemorate a
coronation, the birth of a royal heir, or a great victory. Cannibalism
never followed the sacrifice; and it may be added, parenthetically,
that when the Incas conquered and annexed man-sacrificing and man-eating
tribes, they always abrogated the custom, and with far more decision
and firmness than Britain has shown in abolishing self-immolation of
Juggernaut pilgrims in her Indian Empire, and the burning of widows
with their dead spouses. Some may doubt whether a conqueror ought to
interfere with the religious customs of the vanquished, but few would
plead for the continuance of such customs as human sacrifice and

The animal usually sacrificed by the Peruvians was the llama, and
the priest who officiated drew auguries from the appearance of the
intestines. To effect the oblation a sacred fire was now kindled by a
concave mirror which acted as "a burning glass," precisely as was done
by Numa in the days of Ancient Rome. If the sky was clouded, and no rays
could be collected, fire was produced by friction. When lighted, the
fire was committed to the care of the virgins of the sun, who were
bound to keep it up for the ensuing year. After the single sacrifice
was completed, great numbers of other animals were slaughtered, and a
regular carousal began, attended with music, dancing, and drinking,
that lasted for many days, during which period all the lower orders kept
holiday. In the distribution of bread and wine at this high festival,
the invading Spaniards saw a striking resemblance to the Christian
communion, and they recognised a similar likeness in the Peruvian
practices of confession and penance. The virgins of the sun were called
"the elect," and were young maidens taken from their homes at an early
age, and introduced into convents, where they were placed under the care
of elderly matrons, who taught them their religious duties, and how to
spin and weave, embroider and adorn hangings for the temples, and to
frame garments for the Incas. Their work was such, that it was found to
be superior to any which the Spaniards had ever seen, or were themselves
able to produce. The virgins were separated wholly, not simply, from the
world in general, but also from their own relations and friends--none
but the king and queen could enter into their convent. The closest
attention was paid to the morals of these maidens, and visitors were
sent every year to inspect the institutions, and to report on the
state of their discipline; a plan similar to which has been repeatedly
proposed in Christian England, yet never sanctioned by the parliament!
If a virgin was discovered in an intrigue she was buried alive, her
lover was strangled, and the town or village to which he belonged was
razed to the ground, and sowed with stones, to efface even the memory
of its site. These solar attendants were all of royal blood, and were
estimated to number fifteen hundred; but to provincial convents the
inferior nobility were allowed to send their daughters, and sometimes
a peculiarly lovely peasant girl was admitted. The convents were all
sumptuously furnished. But, though virgins of the sun, they were brides
of the Incas, and we cannot fail, when we read of the vast harem of the
Peruvian monarch, to think of the female establishments of the Jewish
Solomon, of the Persian Ahasuerus, and that of Louis XV. of Christian
France. If at any time the Inca reduced his harem, the superfluous
concubines were restored to their homes, swelling with the importance
which they had gained by their familiarity with the monarch.

Polygamy was permitted. Matrimony was effected by the Inca, or other
chief man, joining the hands of the parties. The king usually espoused
his own sister, but no other person was allowed to do so. No marriage
was valid without the consent of parents. As a general rule, all unions
were effected on the same day of the year, and thus the wedding of
couples was followed by general rejoicing.

The genius of the Peruvian government penetrated into the most private
recesses of domestic life, allowing no man to act for himself, even in
those personal matters in which none but himself, or his family, could
be interested. No Peruvian was too low for the fostering vigilance
of the government; none was so high that he was not made to feel his
dependence upon it in every act of his life. The government of the Incas
was the mildest, but the most searching and beneficent, of despotisms.

We now, but with great reluctance, leave our friendly guide, the
accomplished Prescott, and ask ourselves, once more, the lessons which
we have learned from the departed races of the vast American continent.
Can anyone doubt that one of the most conspicuous results obtained
is, that Christian rule, and the Christian doctrine, have not proved
themselves, in any respect, superior to the Incas' government and their
solar religion? Who can read of the civilization, the theology, and the
practice of the Peruvians, without believing one of two things--the one,
that Jewish ritualism, and the majority of Christian teaching, is of
human invention; the other, that the Almighty has revealed His will in
the Western as well as in the Eastern Hemisphere? Can any thoughtful
man believe that the brutal, covetous, lying Spaniards, who broke,
with impunity, every commandment promulgated in those Gospels, to whose
authority they professed allegiance, and upon which their faith is
founded, were better men, or more favoured by the Lord, "who loveth
righteousness and hateth iniquity," than were the gentle Peruvians, who
fell before them as lambs and sheep before wolves and tigers? Surely the
story of the Incas should make Christians, in all ages, blush for their
inferiority to those, amongst whom neither Moses, Samuel, and other
so-called prophets, Jesus, nor any of his apostles, preached; and more
strongly should it convince us that the wish to do good on a large scale
can come otherwise than by the Gospel. If grace, and peace, and love
came by the Nazarene alone, how is it--and let us ponder over the
question deeply--that all Christian countries have been, and that some
are still, conspicuous for the brutality of their political and priestly
governments, for the frequency with which they make war, for their
ferocity in the destruction of religious enemies, and for the intense
hatred evinced against rival sects, by those who call themselves the
representatives of the Prince of Peace; whilst, on the other hand,
a nation who never heard of the son of Joseph or of Mary, should be
conspicuous for the virtues which ought to adorn the soldiers of the
cross, but do not? Surely, if the saying be true, "by their fruit ye
shall know them," the denizens of the old world must be children of the
Devil, who do the work, of their father, whilst certain of the nations
of the new world, as it is called, were really children of the light,
abounding in love, charity, and goodwill towards all men.

To me it is astonishing how thoughtful men, who have read accounts of
the Mexicans and the Peruvians, can continue to believe that the Bible
is the book of God, written by holy men, whose thoughts and diction were
essentially those of the third person in the Trinity. Who can assert
that Abraham and Jacob, Moses and Aaron, were taught of God, and that to
the Hebrews alone has the Creator revealed His will? Who can see, in
the sensual king David, a man after God's heart, and applaud the brutal
murder of Agag, the destruction of the priests of Baal, by the orders
of Elijah, and the extermination of the Baalites in Israel by Jehu?
Compared with such wretches as these the Incas were angels. They had not
left to them the bloody legacy which has come to the Christian world by
means of the Old Testament: they had not been taught to believe that the
Almighty revelled in the blood of human beings: they never had, amongst
their sacred songs, verses like the following--"that thy foot may be
dipped in the blood of enemies, and the tongue of thy dogs in the same"
(Ps. lxviii. 23).

Ah, it is time for civilized men to cease their admiration for a book
which has produced such frightful fruits, and which has converted
millions of human beings into incarnate fiends.

The Vedas and the Shasters--the writings of the Buddhists, and those of
the Parsees and the Chinese, contain, nowhere, such a justification
of wholesale murder, as do the Scriptures of the Jews and of the
Christians.* From these have been drawn the power to persecute, and, if
possible, to exterminate those who worship God in a different fashion
to those in power. Calvin was as bad as Torquemada; and, even at the
present time, it is only public opinion that prevents fanatics, like the
early New Englanders, from reducing their Christian hate to practical
torture. Everywhere the professed followers of Jesus assume the power
to torment their opponents, whenever they can do so without breaking the
civil law, and there are few pulpits from which the voice of revilement,
contumely, and denunciation is not repeatedly heard. The Romans abuse
the Anglicans; the Establishment sneers at Dissent; Nonconformists
censure all churches; and all libel those whom they call Free Thinkers
and Atheists. To find "toleration" in matters of religion, one must seek
amongst the Deists, or amongst those who refuse to see in the Bible the
revealed will of God to man.

     * See Matthew x. 34, 85; Luke xii. 49, 51, 52, 53.


     Can civilization grow out of barbarism? Dislike of progress,
     especially if mental. Rediscovery of ancient knowledge.
     Advance and retrogression. China and Japan--influence of
     strangers. Decadence of nations--followed by a rise. The
     Shemitic and Negro races. Varied religious ideas. The Negro
     Fetish and Obi. Jewish, Arab, and Christian communication
     with the dead. Australian idea about white men. Ideas of a
     soul and futurity amongst the Aryans and Egyptians. Their
     priesthood. The Aryans Monotheiste. An Aryan hymn. Max
     Müller and Talboys Wheeler. Aryan conceptions compared with
     Psalm civ. 1-4. Monotheism of the Egyptians.   Shemitic

At one period of my life I entertained the idea that civilization never
had grown, nor ever could grow, out of barbarism. Perhaps I have not yet
wholly abandoned it. The considerations which the question involves are
all but infinite. It is doubtful whether we can reduce them into shape
without writing an extensive treatise. We will, however, attempt to do
so, and present the subject to our readers to the best of our ability.

As far as our own personal and historic experience goes, we find that
man has no natural propensity to learn beyond that which he has received
simply as an animal. With him school is a hateful place, and education
is a painful process, even in the midst of the highest civilization we
see individuals who cast from them all the luxuries of life, and descend
voluntarily to a level scarcely superior to that of the brute creation.
But those who take kindly to education, and consent to try and learn
everything which the teacher presents to their notice, are bounded by
the amount of knowledge possessed by the instructor, who cannot impart
to others information in matters of which all are ignorant. It is true
that I once read a question propounded by his schoolmaster to one of my
sons, which ran--"Enumerate upon paper all the capes, bays, and rivers
of England that you don't know by name, and describe the seas which you
have never heard of." Without dwelling upon the anecdote farther than
to say, that it points out the absurdity of the idea that education
of itself advances knowledge, we may pass on to remark, that even in
nations, whose intellect is highly cultivated, the propensity to advance
in knowledge is singularly small. Throughout the old world an inventor
is usually regarded as a visionary, or a lunatic, and flouted by all his
contemporaries.* From the time of Aristotle and Hippocrates, scarcely
any advance was made in philosophy, and, throughout Europe, the
fourteenth century was as barbarous, if not indeed more so, than the
first of our era; and to such a dark age there is a strong clerical
party in Great Britain which desires us to return.

     * A man who had travelled much once said to me,--"I will
     tell you the main difference between a Yankee and an
     Englishman. If you inform the latter of some new discovery--
     or propose the use of some recent invention for his own
     benefit--he will tell you either that the thing is old, or
     worthless. On the other hand, if you recount to the former
     what you have told the latter of, his rejoinder will be, I
     can improve upon that." This is true, and we are now
     repeatedly adopting from the United States discoveries of
     various kinds, which we rejected when offered to us in the
     first place.

Yet, notwithstanding the propensity of cultivated nations to remain
quiescent, there do appear, from time to time, individuals who,
being discontented with things as they are, endeavour to bring about
improvements in the arts, the sciences, and the general conditions of
life. The recognition of a want, is an incentive to a thoughtful mind
to supply the exigency. Whenever an individual endeavours to attain
a definite end, he exercises his mind, not only in what he has been
already taught, but what he can observe beyond that; he rakes up, if
possible, the experience of others, studies their proceedings, and
experiments with a definite object, and ponders upon the affinities,
nature, and the like, of every substance which he surmises may be of
service to him. When, by these means, he has obtained his purpose,
he will repeatedly find that he has done no more than rediscover a
something which was known thousands of years before his time. Without
a doubt, much of the philosophy, science, art, religion, &c., of the
present day, is due to a close observation and an attainment to the
knowledge possessed by our predecessors. "Is there any thing whereof it
may be said, see this is new?--it hath been already of old time, which
was before us" (Eccles. i. 10).

If this be true, even though it may only be so to a partial extent, it
is clearly more philosophical to believe that some primeval men were
created with a considerable amount of knowledge, rather than that all
were savage, barely, if at all, superior to monkeys, and that one or
more of these, gradually elevated their race, by degrees so slow, as to
be imperceptible in less time than many thousand years.

This side of the argument receives corroboration when we study the
history of such semi-civilized countries as China, and such barbarous
regions as those of Africa and Australia. In none of these parts do
we see any general propensity to advance. In the first we see a
retrogression; there is now no effort to repair ancient roads which
have been worn away by centuries of traffic, to restore the old temples,
towers, and landmarks, erected when time was younger, or even to keep
up the teachings of Confucius. A similar apathy existed amongst the
Japanese--yet no sooner do the civilized nations of Europe show the
rulers of China and Japan that it is necessary for them to improve, if
they desire to retain their power, than they attempt to learn the arts
which have enabled their rivals to overcome them. In both cases, the
progress is recognized as due to the interference of a nation, superior
for the time being, to that whose education has been faulty. Advance,
then, in such countries, is clearly due to foreign influence, rather
than to an innate propensity to general, mental, scientific, or
practical development.

But, on the other side, it may be alleged that the African has been in
existence from time immemorial--that he has been in contact with the
civilization of ancient and modern Egypt--with Christianity--with the
ancient Tyrians and Carthaginians--with the Arabs--with the Spaniards,
Portuguese, and British, and yet the African tribes remain almost as
savage now as when they first were known. Similar remarks apply to
the inhabitants of the Andaman Isles, of the vast islands of Borneo,
Celebez, Papua, New Guinea, and others.

Yet in many places, now considered barbarous, we see the remains of
previous empires--and when we are able to find some comparatively
authentic history which tells of the overthrow of a powerful kingdom,
it is clear that the civilized people have usually been destroyed by the
barbarian. The wealth of Rome tempted the hordes from the inhospitable
north, just as the gold of Mexico and Peru were the causes of their
decadence under the Spaniards, whose people were in themselves scarcely
superior to the troops led by Alaric, Genseric, and other so called
barbarians. Yet we know, as in the case of Spain herself, that decadence
from civilization to comparative barbarism may be due to causes inherent
in the people and its governors, wholly independent of foreign conquest.
This decadence is due to the bestial propensities of man being allowed
to dominate over the intellectual, and the result is the same, whether
the animal passions be cultivated by a debased and degrading policy of
monarch and priest, or by the indolence of each individual.

By developing the train of thought thus indicated, we imagine that the
philosophical reader will conclude that amongst men, some race, family,
or tribe, has been created with intelligence, as much above the rest of
their kind as the elephant is superior to the hippopotamus, and the dog
to the cat, and that others are generically as low as is the Australian
"dingo" in the canine race. Those once perfect may deteriorate, yet
carry with them the power of rising again--whilst those originally low
never rise at all, no matter what example may be set them, unless force
is used to make them learn. To these we must add a third set, specially
to include the American, for we have no evidence whatever that the
civilization of the Aztec and Peruvian was anything more than a
restoration of the scientific knowledge of a more ancient people,
possibly of an Aryan stock. Who that is acquainted with the Shemitic
race can fail to see in its people the type of an ancient condition
which has decayed, until, like a fallen gentleman, it can only show what
once it was, by conserving and exhibiting a few ornaments of no value,
save from their age, but whose sons may yet become princes in their
paternal domains? Who that studies the negro in Africa, America, and St.
Domingo, can fail to see that he is, or, at any rate has hitherto shown
himself, almost wholly incapable of development as a philosophic man?
And who can read the pages of Prescott without recognizing the fact that
some of the ancient inhabitants of America inaugurated--unassisted, as
we judge by any example from others--a style of religion and government
of which the world has hardly, if at all, seen an equal? Yet it is
remarkable, that both the Mexican and Peruvian traced their laws and
institutions to strangers who came amongst them, as Oannes did to the
Babylonians, and who taught them what arts, religion, and science they
themselves had. The subject of centres of human life into which our
considerations have drawn us, is by far too vast for discussion here.
It involves the study of geology, of anthropology, of glossology,
of navigation, of physical geography, of climate, of the laws of
reproduction, of the influences of climate over animals, and of diet
upon man. Into all these we dare not enter: we shall confine ourselves
rather to considering the religious ideas of the lowest of the known
races of mankind; and then proceed to those which have been held by what
we may call the oscillating people, i.e., those vibrating repeatedly
between a state of empire and one of slavery, like the people of
Hindostan, Babylon, Judea, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Egypt.

When we endeavour to ascertain the religion of the negro, by which term
we include all the black native tribes of Africa, we find ourselves
almost in the position of a modern chemist seeking for the philosopher's
stone. In no single book, and I have read very many, can I find any
trustworthy evidence of the negro having any religion at all. It is true
that travellers in Abyssinia, and those who are now returned from their
successful expedition against Magdala, tell us that in Abyssinia there
is a form of religion which is evidently a corrupt form of Christianity,
but with this exception, the blacks seem to have no idea of that
congeries of fact and fiction, dogma, ritual, and practice, which passes
current for religion in more civilized countries. Yet though they have
no definite idea of a Creator, and the way in which He works throughout
the universe, they have a dread of some unseen power, and, like a number
of frightened children, dread the effects of "fetish," and the power of
the Obi or Obeah man. When the mind is predisposed to fear, and it is so
amongst the lower animals as well as in man, it is astonishing at what
contemptible objects one may stand aghast. I can vividly remember being
sent, whilst a very young child, with a message from an aunt, at whose
home I was staying, to the maid, who was washing in an outhouse, but ere
I reached the door of the latter, I was terrified at a head which seemed
to be rising from the ground, Such was my horror that I ran away, too
proud to scream, yet almost fainting with horror. To me that ancient
battered barber's doll was "fetish," and if my friends had determined to
cultivate the timidity which I then showed, it is quite possible that to
this day I might have a dread not dissimilar to that of the African.
As it was, my aunt told me that what had scared me, was only a piece of
carved and painted wood, and so put me upon my mettle, that I delivered
my message and gave the image a kick in the face; yet my valour was
short lived, and during the rest of my sojourn I dared not venture
within sight of the bugbear. To all intents and purposes that human head
was, in my estimation, the guardian of the garden--its presence made all
within its influence under taboo--had I ventured to tell a lie, or to
have been naughty, I cannot conceive that any punishment would have been
greater than being doomed to sit in the presence of the weird image.
Hence I can easily understand the abject terror of the African at
"fetish," and his dread of the Obeah man, who asserts that he can direct
upon whom he will the power of the unknown god. So great is the fear of
this negro magician, and so common is that fear to man in general, that
we sometimes find the white man as full of it as the black. I have had,
for example, under my own care, an Englishman of good education, who,
whilst superintendent of a Jamaica plantation, became so cowed by "Obi,"
that he was obliged to give up his position and return to England,
literally insane upon the subject of "fetish" and "Obeah," and wholly
unfitted for any work whatever.

The objects to which the name of "fetish" is given are very numerous--a
rock, a stone, a tree, a pool, a dried monkey, an alligator, man, or
skull--anything will suit the purpose. One which is said to be very
popular amongst chieftains is prepared somewhat in the following
manner:--The head of a father is removed after death, and so placed,
that as the brain decays and softens, it may fall into a receptacle
already half filled with palm oil or other grease. The material so
formed, consisting to a great extent of the thoughtful organ of the
sire, is then supposed to give his spirit to the son, whenever the
latter smears himself with it, or takes it as a potent medicinal spell.
The head thus placed becomes the royal "fetish," and the king goes to
take counsel from it just as ancient priests inquired, or pretended to
inquire, from the god or lord of some shrine or oracle. I cannot charge
my memory with everything that has been at one time or another regarded
as an object of wonder, worship, or "fetish," but I have an indistinct
recollection that a musical box has been venerated by Africans, as much
as the Ancilia, the Palladium, the Diana which fell down from Jupiter,
the Caaba or black stone of Mecca, the ark of the covenant, the brazen
serpent, the wood of the true cross, the nails which pierced Jesus,
and the handkerchief which was used to wipe the face of the suffering
Nazarite, all of which have been sacred amongst civilized nations, and
are still adored by some. It would be difficult for a philosopher to
draw a distinction between an African "fetish" and a Papal relic. There
is no virtue which the Romanist has attributed to old bones, old nails,
old shoes, old coats, old houses, old staircases, old bits of wood, old
links of chains, old hairs, old statues, &c., that has not been equally
attributed by negroes to some absurd fetish in Ashantee, Dahomey, or

In some parts of the vast African continent, however, there seems to be
an indistinct idea of a life after death, and when a great man dies,
or is killed, his wives, and many of his slaves, are sacrificed for his
future use, and vast human sacrifices are made annually in his honour,
that the departed may hear, from time to time, of the welfare of those
whom he has left behind. Feeling indisposed to regard this practice
as the offspring of religious faith, I would compare it with the crude
conceptions of some of the lowest class in Europe and America, aye, of
some cultivated intellects as well, who profess to be able, by means
of _media_, to communicate with the dead, or who send messages to
their departed relatives by friends that are dying. The most remarkable
development of this idea which I have yet met with has recently occurred
in France, where a young man attempted to murder a beautiful young
woman, to whom he was a total stranger, the reason he assigned being,
that he intended to commit suicide immediately after the murder, so that
he might enter the future world with a pleasant companion.

We can scarcely regard the persons figuring in the following true story
as being very much superior to the King of Dahomey. In a well-cared
for English village a poor woman was about to die in the full odour of
Protestant sanctity. In youth she had lost one leg, and now had disease
in the other. To her came an old woman and said,--"I hear thou's goin'
to dee Betty, and that thou's goin' to heaven--at least parson says
so--when thou's got there, willee tell my owd man that I've just bought
that field as he set his heart on." "Oh dear," said the dying woman,
"how can I go stumping all about heaven with my legs in the state
they're in." "Well, you can tell him at anyrate if you happen to see him
go by!"

Passing from the African, let us now say a word or two about the
Australian. It is, I think, Mitchell, who states, in an account of his
travels in that country, that the white men were used in a manner so
considerate, in some instances, indeed, so kindly, that he was induced
to inquire into the cause. He found that these friendly tribes were
in the habit of eating their defunct relatives--being always short of
provisions, they used man meat, as do other starving creatures when they
devour their like--and they cooked the body much in the same way as we
do dead pig. By scalding the carcass, the cuticle and the black layer,
called _rete mucosum_, was removed, and the corpse became white. This
gave the people the notion that Europeans were their own dead relatives
returned from the spirit world. Sir G. Gray also, in his account of an
expedition to the north-west coasts of the same vast island, describes
how all the people with whom he came into contact believed in the
power of sorcery or witchcraft. Without extending our inquiry into the
undeveloped religious ideas of other barbarians, we may affirm, from the
preceding examples, that there is, even amongst the lowest human beings,
some idea of a future state, and of the existence of some unseen power,
which may work mischief upon themselves or their friends. Beyond these
vague notions the savage who has neither been taught, nor inherited the
power or propensity to learn, rarely, if ever, passes.

If, then, the surmise to which we gave utterance awhile ago is founded
in truth, we may fairly endeavour to ascertain what is the race, or
the people, which have been born with a higher religious development, a
greater capacity for learning, and a higher appreciation of the value of
agriculture and civilization than the rest of the world's inhabitants.

We now find ourselves on the threshold of a question which has, for many
years past, divided the scientific world, viz., Was there originally one
human couple only, or were there many intellectual centres? Into this
matter it would be unprofitable to enter, for to give an account of the
Chinese, Egyptian, Aryan, American, and Shemitic races, would require
many huge volumes. It will, probably, be permitted to me to omit from
the inquiry all but Aryans and Egyptians. I select these because I
have, in the preceding volumes, descanted largely upon the faith of the
Babylonians, Assyrians, Tyrians, and others, and because I believe that
these ancients have done very much to modify the faith of Europe. If
time and opportunity permitted, I fancy that anyone might make a
most interesting analysis of that which Europe owes to the Shemites,
Egyptians, and Aryans respectively; but it is beyond our powers at
present to go into the whole subject. The volumes which have recently
been published about the Ancient Hindoo religion may be counted by
dozens, and the writings of Egyptologists are almost equally numerous.
We must, therefore, content ourselves with a reference to a few main

It seems to be an undoubted fact, that both the Egyptians and Aryans
recognized the existence of a soul in human beings, and believed that it
survived the dissolution of the body in some state, whose position and
physical condition were unknown. They held, moreover, that the locality
and condition of the spiritual part of man after death depended upon
the actions of the individual during life. Both people believed in the
influence of prayer, of sacrifices, of a maceration, or torturing of the
fleshy body, and they had, moreover, each of them, a priestly race,
who regulated festivals, ordained ceremonies, and prescribed everything
which those who regarded their spiritual welfare should do. I believe
that the Egyptians were, in reality, monotheistic; but my authority for
the idea has escaped me. It is certain that the ancient Aryans were so,
and I cannot do better than refer my readers to the _History of Sanscrit
Literature_, by Max Müller, and the first vol. of the _History of
India_, by Talboys Wheeler. Yet, as the first is out of print, and the
second a volume of considerable size, it will, perhaps, be judicious if
I quote some passages from both. The following hymn, translated by M.
M., p. 559 sq., is, to my own ideas, far more grand in conception than
any other which I have read, and shows a depth or sublimity of thought
that could only be attained by a profoundly intelligent intellect.
Moderns might equal it, none could surpass it. Speaking of the
beginning, the words run, "Nothing that is, was then; even what is not,
did not exist then." The poet then proceeds to deny the existence of
the sky, and of the firmament, and yet, unable to bear the idea of an
unlimited nothing, he exclaims, "What was it that hid or covered the
existing? what was the refuge of what? was water the deep abyss, the
chaos which swallowed up everything?" Then his mind, turning away from
nature, dwells upon man, and the problem of human life. "There was no
death, therefore there was nothing immortal There was no space, no life,
and lastly, there was no time--no difference between day and night--no
solar torch by which morning might have been told from evening. That One
breathed breathless by itself, other than it, nothing since has been.
That One breathed and lived; it enjoyed more than mere existence; yet
its life was not dependent upon anything else, as our life depends upon
the air we breathe. It breathed, breathless. Darkness there was, and all
at first was veiled in gloom, profound as ocean without life." Müller
then rather describes what the poet means than gives his words; I will,
therefore, adopt now, for the rest of the hymn, the metrical version,
which he gives at p. 564:--

     "The germ that still lay covered in the husk
     Burst forth, one nature, from the fervent heat.
     Then first came Love upon it, the new spring
     Of mind; yea, poets in their hearts discerned,
     Pondering this bond between created things And uncreated.
     Comes this spark from earth,
     Piercing and all-pervading, or from heaven?
     These seeds were sown, and mighty power arose,
     Nature below, and Power and Will above.
     Who knows the secret? who proclaimed it here?
     Whence, whence this manifold creation sprang?
     The gods themselves came later into being.
     Who knows from whence this great creation sprang?
     He, from whom all this great creation came.
     Whether His will created or was mute,
     The Most High seer, that is in highest heaven,
     He knows it; or, perchance, e'en He knows not"

One more hymn is even more distinct in its monotheism, p. 569. "In the
beginning there arose the source of golden light. He was the only born
Lord of all that is. He established the earth and this sky. Who is the
God to whom we shall offer our sacrifice? He who gives life. He who
gives strength; whose blessing all the bright gods desire; whose shadow
is immortality; whose shadow is death.... He who, through His power, is
the only King of the breathing and the awakening world. He who governs
all--man and beast.... He whose power these snowy mountains, whose power
the sea proclaims, with the distant river. He whose these regions are,
as it were, His two arms.... He through whom the sky is bright, and the
earth firm. He through whom the heaven was 'stablished, nay, the highest
heaven. He who measured out the light in the air.... He to whom heaven
and earth, standing firm by His will, look up, trembling inwardly.
He over whom the rising sun shines forth.... Where-ever the mighty
water-clouds went, where they placed the seed, and lit the fire, thence
arose He who is the only life of the bright gods.... He who, by
His might, looked even over the water-clouds, the clouds which gave
strength, and lit the sacrifice. He _who is God above all gods_.... May
He not destroy us. He, the creator of the earth; or He, the righteous,
who created the heaven. He who also created the bright and mighty
waters." In this hymn I have only omitted the repeated question--Who is
the God to whom we shall offer our sacrifice?

Of the high antiquity of these productions no competent scholar
entertains a doubt. It is not certain how many years before our era it
was composed, but it is considered that it was prior to B. C. 2000, long
before the time when the ideal Moses is said to have written, and _à
fortiori_ anterior, by at least a thousand years, to the authors of the
Book of Psalms.

Talboys Wheeler remarks, p. 27--"Having thus sketched generally the
individual character of the leading deities of the Aryans as they appear
in the Rig Veda, it may be advisable to glance at that conception of One
Supreme Being, as in all and above all, which finds full expression in
the Vedic hymns. Upon this point the following passages will be found
very significant:--'Who has seen the primeval being at the time of His
being born? what is that endowed with substance that the unsubstantial
sustains? from earth are the breath and blood, but where is the
soul--who may repair to the sage to ask this? What is that One alone,
who has upheld these six spheres in the form of an unborn?'" Then
follows the hymn just quoted from M. Müller.

I may add that the so-called gods Indra, Agni, Surya, the Maruts, &c.,
are only personifications of the abstract powers of nature, the sky,
fire, the sun, the winds, &c. These are the same conceptions as are
referred to in Ps. civ. 1-4--they are not deities, but ministers.

It will probably be said by the orthodox that these descriptions of the
creation and the Creator are mere efforts of the human mind, and not the
products of "revelation." We grant it at once, and answer, why, then,
should the comparatively miserable conceptions of one or more Hebrews,
who knew nothing of a soul or a future life till they had learned it
from the Chaldeans or the Persians, be regarded differently? Was the
Jewish ignorance the result of Divine "inspiration?" Did the Devil give
to the heathen the knowledge of Satan's origin and power? If so, why did
the Jews, and why do Christians, adopt it?

I have already mentioned that the Aryans believed in the efficacy
of prayer to their gods: they offered to them, much as we do now,
supplications for rain, abundant harvests, prolific cattle, bodily
vigour, long life, numerous progeny, &c., just as did, very rarely, the
seed of Abraham.

We may now make some quotations from the Egyptian Ritual for the Dead
(Bunsen's _Egypt_, Vol. V.). "O soul, greatest of things created" (p.
165); "I am the Great God, creating himself" (p. 172); "Oh Lord of the
great abode, Chief of the gods" (p. 177). Throughout this invocation,
however, the lord of the universe seems to be spoken of as the sun under
various titles. There is frequent reference to the danger of the soul
falling into the power of some malignant deity, and orthodoxy is secured
by addressing every good god by his or her proper title. There is no
grand conception anywhere, and the endless repetitions disgust the
ordinary reader. I must add that the sun, Osiris, and the male organ,
are spoken of as emblematic of each other.

If we next turn to the Shemitic religions, we have to contend with the
difficulty produced by the paucity of written records, and the doubts
which exist about certain epithets that relate to the gods. As far as I
can discover, there was an idea of a Supreme Being, whose name was Jeho.
Io. Iou., or the like, and Il or El. His ministers were the sun, moon,
planets, constellations, and stars. His emblems were the sexual organs,
and worship was, to a great degree, licentious. There was no conception
of a spiritual life after death, or of a state of future rewards and
punishments. Sacrifice was thought much of, but I doubt whether there
was anything like what we know as prayer. At any rate, in all those
parts of the Bible which seem to be the oldest, there is a singular
absence of any formula or command for supplication. Solomon's prayer
is comparatively of modern date. Indeed, this vacuity is implied in the
expression of one of Jesus' disciples, "Teach us to pray, as John
also taught his disciples" (Luke xi. 1), thus showing clearly that the
practice of prayer was not a Judaic, i.e., Mosaic one.*

     * As a friend, who has been kind enough to assist me to
     correct these sheets in their passage through the press,
     considers that I ought to give some reasons for the
     assertion made in the text, the following information is

     I.   There are, in all, about a score of different words in
     Hebrew which have been translated, "prayer," "I pray,"
     "praying," &c. These are--(1) ahnah or ahna, (2) begah, (3)
     ghalah, (4) ghanan, (5) loo, (6) lahgash, (7) na, (8)
     gathar, (9) pagag, (10) pahlal, (11) tztlah, (12) seeagh,
     (13) shoal, (14) tephilah.    The rest are different forms
     of the same roots.

     II.  These words do not, except in a few instances, really
     bear the signification of "prayer" or "intercession," which
     is given to them in the Authorised English Version of the
     Bible; as any one may convince himself by consulting
     Wigram's Hebrew concordance.

     Thus, No. 1, in three instances, is translated in the A. V.
     by the interjection "or,(OL)" No. 2, in the A. V. is once
     used as "praying," but in other parts as "seeking" for
     persons, "desiring" or "requesting," and "making." No. 8 is
     translated in various parts of the A. V.    "I am weak" "I
     fell sick," "was not grieved," "a parturient woman crying,"
     "to put one's self to pain," "is grievous," "hath laid," "is
     my infirmity," and these meanings are far more common than
     the signification of "prayer." No. 4 is only used twice, and
     is in one place translated  "by showing mercy," and in the
     other by "making supplication." No. 5 is translated "O
     that," "peradventure," "would God that," "if," "if haply,"
     "though," and only once "I pray thee." No. 6 is translated
     "enchantment," "orator," "earrings," "charmed," and once
     only "prayer," with the marginal reading "secret speech."
     No. 7 is in one place "now," in another "Oh," "go to," as
     well as "I pray," and this in the same sense as we should
     use the words to a child "I wish you would be quiet" No. 8
     is generally used in the sense of "intreaty" or "prayer,"
     but it once is found as "earnest," and "multiplying words,"
     as in a Litany. No. 9 is used to signify "he came,"
     "reached," "thou shalt meet," "fall upon," or "kill,"  "he
     lighted" on a certain place,  "they met together," and in
     the 53d chapter of Isaiah the same word is used in verse 6,
     "for the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all," and
     in verse 12, for "and made intercession for the
     transgressors!" No. 10 is used almost exclusively for
     prayer, but it is only found six times in the whole
     Pentateuch, in one of which it is read "I had no  thought"
     in the A. V. No. 11 is only found twice, once in Ezra and
     once in Daniel, and signifies "prayer" in both. No. 12 has
     many interpretations in the A. V., viz., "meditation,"
     "speaking," "talking," "complaining," "declaring," in one
     instance only is it translated "pray," and that in the
     apparently important text Ps. lv. 17, "Evening and morning
     and at noon will I pray."   As a substantive the word is
     rendered as "complaint," "talking, meditation,"
     "babbling," and only once "prayer," and that in Ps. lv. 2,
     "Hear my voice, O God, in my prayer." No. 13 is generally
     translated "ask," as we should remark, "well, if he asks me
     what must I say?" "beg," as "he shall beg in harvest;"
     "consulted," in the text "he consulted with images,"
     "salute," "to salute him of peace;" "enquired," "Saul
     enquired of the Lord;" "wished," "and wished in himself to
     die;" "lent," "I have lent him to the Lord," "so that they
     lent unto them." No. 14 is used exclusively for prayer, but
     the word is not to be found in the whole of the Pentateuch.
     III. There is reason to believe that the most important of
     these words have come from the Persian, a language allied to
     the Sanscrit;  and if so, it is clear that the idea of
     prayer was adopted by the Jews after they were patronised by
     the conquerors of Babylon.    Some of the other words are
     Aramaic, and probably even more modern than the rest.    For
     example, No. 10 is compared by Furst in his Hebrew and
     Chaldee Lexicon, to the Sanscrit phal, and No. 8 may also be
     derived from the Persian, and a Sanscrit root gad,  which
     signifies "to speak to," or "call upon,"    Anahf No.  1, is

I think that it was Mons. Weill, in his remarkable book called Moise et
le Talmud, who first drew attention to the influence of the Talmudists
upon the Jewish Scriptures. He pointed out that in the Mosaic law there
was no idea of prayer, intercession, or pardon; everything was based
upon the "lex talionis," an eye was to be paid for with an eye, murder
was to be avenged by murder, and ecclesiastical, ceremonial, and other
transgressions were to be atoned, i.e., satisfaction was to be given by
sacrifice and payments to the priest or tabernacle. But when the Jews,
after their contact with the Chaldeans, Medea, Persians, Greeks, and
Romans, began to study theology, two sects arose--the Talmudists, who
explained away the older Scriptures, interpolated narratives, or simply
texts therein, so as to suit their purposes; and the Sadducees, who
refused to adopt as matters of faith anything which was not taught by
Moses. The first was the strongest sect, and composed the majority in
the Sanhedrim. They thus had power over the sacred canon, and could
reject manuscripts or adopt them according as the purposes which were
aimed at were served. The Talmudic interpolations are supposed to b«
recognised chiefly in the more modern parts of the Old Testament,
in Ezra, Nehemiah, the second Isaiah and Jeremiah, in the books of
Zechariah and Malachi, in the Chronicles, Daniel, in many Psalms, more
sparsely in the older histories, but very largely in the Pentateuch.
From these considerations, from the absence of any order in the Mosaic
law for the priests to offer any supplication, and from, the general
absence of prayer from the sacrifices of all nations, we may conclude
that "intercession" formed no part in the Jewish religion in the early
days of its existence.

When working upon this subject I endeavoured to examine the curious
Iguvian tables, on which Aufrecht, Eircher, and Newman have bestowed
such pains. These are, I believe, the only tables extant which give
directions to the old Umbrian, or any other ancient priests, how to
conduct public sacrifices and the ensuing feasts. In them there are
directions for invocations, but no formula for prayers, unless one can
call invocations by that name. I fancy, that in some parts of the
tables there are words which may be rendered "speak," or "mutter," or
"meditate," or "pray silently."

The fact that a Hebrew historian has composed a prayer, and put it into
the mouth of King Solomon, rather than into that of a high priest, shows
that supplication for the people was not a strictly sacerdotal duty.
Even now, with all our liberality of thought, we take our prayers from
the Archbishops, and not from the crown.

But what we have said points to another important consideration, viz.,
how far our Authorized Version can be trusted as a foundation upon which
to build a theory respecting the use of prayer, when we find that the
words given in English do not correspond with the words in the original

We have noticed in the text that both John and Jesus taught their
disciples to pray; we may now call attention to the idea which the
latter had of "prayer." In a parable, which was evidently intended to
represent what was common enough in his day, he says, "Two men went up
into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican;
the Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself--God, I thank Thee that
I am not as other men are," &c (Luke xviii. 10-13). Surely one cannot
call a boastful enumeration of one's virtues either "supplication,"
"prayer," or "entreaty;" but we understand readily that what we should
call "meditation" was once included under the name "prayer." This
anecdote unquestionably seems to prove that there was nothing like
public prayer in the temple ritual. The idea of the Ancients was to
obtain what they wanted by costly sacrifice; the idea of the Moderns is
to obtain their desires by the expenditure of words only. We know that
Pagans used long litanies, and that Christians do so too. In Jezebel's
time "0 Baal, hear us" resounded on Mount Carmel in sonorous monotony.
We have replaced that heathen chant by another, and our cathedrals
reverberate constantly with the musical rogation, "We beseech Thee to
hear us, good Lord," uttered more than a score of times. Our orthodoxy
consists in our using English instead Phoenician words, and in calling
Baal by a word more familiar to us; and as the highest commendation
which we can give to others is to imitate them, so we praise the Ancient
heathen highly, who thought that they would be heard from their "much
speaking." It is ever easier to change our words than our practice. Like
the Pharisee, Christians boast that they are not as other men are; but
by their proceedings they show that they are like the Jews, of whose
paternity Jesus had not an exalted opinion. (See John viii. 44).

In further illustration of the absence of a set form of prayer in the
temple worship in Jerusalem, and of the independence of all devout
solicitors of priestly aid, I may point to Matthew vi. 5 to 8, wherein
we find that hypocrites offered their supplications, not only in the
temple, but at the corners of the streets. It is just possible that in
the former locality there might have been some public worship going on,
in which the saintly could join, but certainly there was no such ritual
at street corners. But if there had really been divine service in the
temple, it follows that those who joined in it would not have been
conspicuous, or deserving the name of hypocrites. The fault of these
which is mentioned by Jesus is ostentatious public prayer, i.e.9 the
doing of that which had not been prescribed by Moses.

As I have, in a preceding volume, spoken at some length concerning the
morals and manners of ancient races, and shown how, as a rule, their
conduct has been the same as that of modern Christians, and as,
moreover, the subject has been treated of in an essay by Lecky (_History
of European Morals_), I will not pursue this part of my subject further
than to remark, that we have scarcely two articles of faith--if, indeed
we have more than one--i.e., respect for one day in seven--which we have
not received, directly or indirectly, from Pagans. Even our Christianity
is but a modified Buddhism, as I shall endeavour, in my next chapter, to


     Christianity and Buddhism. The new and old world. An
     impartial judge is said to be a partisan. Works on the
     subject. Sakya Muni's birth, B.c. 620 (about), position in
     life, original views. Parallels between Brahmin-ism,
     Buddhism, Hebraism, and Christianity. History of Sakya Muni
     --that of Jesus corresponds with it marvellously. Sakya
     receives a commission from an angel--is henceforth a
     saviour. History of Jesus follows that of Sakya. Siddartha
     neither dictated nor wrote. A favourite garden. Sakya and
     the Brahmins. Buddha and Christ equally persecuted. Spread
     of Buddhism after Siddartha's death. Asoka a royal convert
     Buddhist missionaries, b.c. 307. Their wonderful successes.
     Different development of Buddhism and Christianity.
     Persecution a Christian practice, Buddha tempted by the
     Devil, and by women, like St Anthony. Buddha's life reduced
     to writing, at least B.c. 90. Hardy on Buddhist miracles.
     His remarks criticised. Necessity for miracles is doubtful.
     Sakya and a future life. Resurrection from the dead. Jesus
     not the first fruits of them that slept. Paul's argument
     worthless. Buddhists in advance of Christians. Priestcraft
     at time of Buddha and Jesus. Both did away with ceremonial.
     Sakya's doctrine--compared with Christian teaching. Another
     parallel between Buddha and Jesus. Commandments of Tathâgata
     (Buddha), or the Great Sramana. Rules for his saintly
     friends--for outsiders. Definition of terms. The Sra-mana's
     opinion of miracles--a comparison. The history of Jesus told
     without miracles. Buddhistic confession--remarks on in
     modern times. Filial respect. Public confession, murder
     absolved thereby. Asoka, about B.c. 263, sent out
     missionaries. Objections made against Buddhism. Ideas
     respecting God. Salvation. Buddha and Jesus. Nirvana. Heaven
     and Hell--Christian ideas. Apocalypse. The heaven of John
     and Mahomet compared with that of Buddha. Prayer not a
     Buddhist institution--nor originally a Christian one. Nature
     of prayer. The developments of Buddhism, particulars--
     comparison between the Eastern ancient and Western modern
     practice. Abbé Hue. No sexual element in Buddhism and
     Christianity at first--it has crept into both in later
     times. Inquiry into the probable introduction of Buddhism
     into the West. Asceticism peculiar to Buddhism and
     Christianity. The Essenes, their faith and practice--
     resemblance to Buddhism. John and Jesus probably Essenes.
     If Jesus was inspired, so was Siddartha.    Differences
     between Sakya and Jesus. Jesus 'believed in an immediate
     destruction of the world. Idea of préexistence in Jesus and
     Sakya adopted by their followers. The basis of the two
     faiths is morality--but an unsound one. Nature of the
     unsoundness. Morality has a reference to a life on earth
     only. The decalogue superfluous. Ideas of future rewards and
     punishments. Dives and Lazarus. The world can exist without
     a knowledge of a future life. God thought so when He taught
     the Jews. Dogma versus morality. See how these Christians
     live! There are a few good men amongst Christians.
     Supplementary remarks.

From the Peruvian and Aztec religious systems in what we designate the
New World, a phrase which involves the idea that its existence was for
ages wholly unknown to the historians of the Eastern Hemisphere, we turn
to another form of faith, which demands even greater attention. Buddhism
has, probably, done more to influence the minds of men in Asia than
any other religion in any part of the globe, and its history is so
remarkable, that it deserves the attention of every philosophical
student of mankind. To the Christian it ought to be especially
interesting, inasmuch as there is strong reason to believe that the
faith current amongst ourselves is to be traced to the teaching of
Sakya Muni, whose original name, we may notice, in passing, was no more
"Buddha" than "Christ" was the cognomen of the son of Mary.

An ingenious author on one occasion wrote a charming essay "upon the
art of putting things," and I cannot read any treatise upon Buddhism,
written by a Christian, without thinking how completely "the advocate"
is to be seen throughout them all Ecclesiastical writers, who are
Protestant preachers, endeavour laboriously to prove that the teaching
of Sakya Muni could not have been inspired, and was certainly false;
whilst other writers, who have no particular leaning towards Jesus,
extol the author of Buddhism beyond that of Christianity. Truly, in such
a matter it is extremely difficult not to appear as a partisan, however
carefully the scales may be held. The very fact of endeavouring "to see
ourselves as others see us" involves the necessity of "putting things"
in a different light to that which is most common or familiar to us. A
bumptious Briton thinks more of his own Islands than a Yankee thinks of
them, and one who endeavours to describe "the wheel of the law" as an
astute Buddhist would do, and who, at the same time, compares it with
the teachings of the son of Mary, must seem to those who, without
knowing its nature, despise the former, and yet implicitly believe in
the latter, to be a partisan. Acting upon this belief, we shall not
scruple to appear as an advocate, for we believe that "an opposition"
is as good in religion as in politics, and that it behoves us all to
examine every important question in all its bearings.

In the following essay I shall not attempt to go into every detail about
the life of Sakya Muni, for to do so would weary the reader. Anyone
who wishes for such information may be referred to _Le Bouddha et sa
Religion_, par J. Barthélemy Saint Hilaire, Paris, 1860, a book which
may be fairly designated as exhaustive. The English reader may also
consult _The Legends and Theories of the Buddhists_, by Rev. R. Spence
Hardy, London, 1866, which, though very prejudiced, is extremely
suggestive. Hardy's _Eastern Monachism_ and _Manual of Buddhists_ are
about the same. _The Mahawanso_ translated by Tumour, is also a very
valuable work of reference.

There appears to be little doubt that Sakya Muni was born about 622
years before our era, and that he died when about eighty years of age,
i.e.f B.C. 542. He was thus a contemporary of Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and
other Jewish prophets. Though of royal birth, and of the warrior or
kingly caste, he does not appear to have been instructed in general
history, if, indeed, any such was in existence in Hindostan at that or
any other period; and we cannot find a tittle of evidence that he
ever heard of any other religion than Brahminism, the dominant faith,
apparently, of the Aryan invaders of India. In that he was taught
assiduously, and some of its tenets he most firmly believed. Amongst
others, he held that men lived in a future world, in which each one was
rewarded or punished according to his doings when in a human form. His
teaching was founded upon the belief which the Brahmins inculcated,
that all men endure misery in this world for their conduct in a previous
state of existence, and that they would once again suffer after death,
unless they conducted themselves, in this life, in a manner pleasing
to the Almighty. In this creed is clearly involved, if not distinctly
enunciated, a full acknowledgment of the existence and power of God, of
the certainty of a future life, and a desire to escape from penalties
to be inflicted therein by a supreme celestial Judge, for immorality or
impropriety committed in the present state. For these points of doctrine
Sakya did not contend, he merely laid down a different system to the
Brahmins as to the method by which salvation was to be attained, and the
penal consequences of a sinful life were to be avoided.

We may now, halting here for a moment, examine these matters for
ourselves, and inquire in what way such faith differs from our own.
The Brahmin taught that man suffers pain, misery, and death for certain
crimes committed in a previous state of existence; the Christian teaches
that each one suffers for a fault committed by ancestors who lived
thousands of years ago. Neither the one nor the other regard pain,
sorrow, suffering, and death as the normal accompaniments of life, but
both attribute them to the wrath of an offended deity, who can be, in
some way, cheated, cajoled, appeased, or propitiated. Both assert that
men are debtors to God, and that miseries are "duns" used to make men
pay their obligations to heaven. The Brahmin taught that this could be
effected by prayer, sacrifice, and sundry ceremonies to be performed
by some man who had been specially appointed for the purpose. A due
attention to morality was also inculcated, but it was apparently
considered as of less importance than ritualistic observances.

The Jew, whom so many amongst us believe to have been especially taught
by God, propounded a belief essentially similar to that of the Brahmin,
with the single exception that he had no faith in a future existence,
but thought that sacrifice and offerings, through a priesthood, were
necessary to obtain comfort in this life.

The Christian teaches that the horrors of eternity can only be escaped
by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts xvi. 30, 31), and by being
moral in addition.

The "belief" here referred to is somewhat amplified in other parts of
the Bible, and notably in John iii. 15-17, 36; vi. 39, 40; ix. 35; xi.
15; and Acts viii. 37; from which we learn that an item in the faith was
a firm hold upon the idea that Jesus was the son, the only begotten son,
of God. This dogma is still further extended in the "Apostles' Creed,"
wherein the Christians express, as articles of faith, their belief, that
Jesus Christ was the only son of God, conceived by the Holy Ghost, and
born of the Virgin Mary, &c. This tenet is somewhat varied in the Nicene
Creed, which expresses the Christian belief to be, that the Lord Jesus
Christ is the only begotten son of God--begotten of his Father before
all worlds--being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things
were made, &c.

The fundamental teaching of Sakya was, that man can only escape the
tortures of the damned, by a strict propriety of conduct in this
world, and a persistent endeavour to renounce and think nothing of the
gratifications which make life pleasant. The modern Buddhist adds to
this a belief in the absolute divinity of the founder of his faith, not
simply that he was a son of God, but a visible embodiment of a portion
of the Creative Unity. Brahmins and Buddhists believe in transmigration
of souls: the Christian does the like, only, instead of being converted
into a beast, he imagines that he will become either an angel or a

Within certain limits, we may, therefore, say that the Brahminic, the
Jewish, the Buddhist, and the Christian religions are essentially
alike, differing only upon minor points, such as the absolute value of
morality, of ceremonial, of doctrine, of asceticism, the nature of a
hypothetical antecedent, and an equally uncertain future existence, and
the best means of escaping the penalties attached, in the second state,
to impropriety of conduct in the first. If we deride the Brahmin
and the Buddhist for the faith which they entertain, our laugh must
necessarily recoil on ourselves, for we have no more unequivocal grounds
for our belief than they have for theirs. We point in vain to what we
call "Revelation," for they can do the same, and if priority in such
matters is good for anything, the Brahminic must take precedence of the
Jewish, and the Buddhist of the Christian code. Nor can we call miracles
to our exclusive aid, for the religious books of the Hindoo are as full
of them as are those of the Jew and Christian, and the stories told
in the one can be readily paralleled in impossibility, incapacity,
frivolity, and absurdity by the others.

We must remember, then, when speaking of the teaching of Sakya, that it
was constructed upon the supposed fundamental truths of Brahminism, just
as the doctrines of Jesus were built upon those of Judaism. By adopting
these, respectively, the two preachers have demonstrated their belief in
them, but neither the one nor the other have advanced our knowledge
as to the reality of the earliest faith, nor demonstrated the truth of
their subsequent assumptions.

If we now endeavour, for the sake of comparison, to place the Eastern
and the Western points of belief in parallel columns, we shall be better
able to see the points of resemblance and of difference than by any
other plan.

[Illustration: 114]

[Illustration: 115]

These are only a few of the leading points of resemblance and
difference, and might be almost indefinitely multiplied.

After this preface, we may proceed to notice that Siddartha--another
name for Buddha--was of royal birth, and born in wedlock: his mother was
called Maya Devi, and was herself the daughter of a king. His father was
of the warrior caste, and, according to ancient usage, Sakya, like Jesus
some centuries later, was presented in the temple of the God of his
parents, and recognized by a Brahmin, whom we may designate as a
predecessor, by some hundreds of years, of the Jewish Simeon (Luke ii
25, seq.)f as having the marks of a great man upon him. As Sakya grew up
to man's estate he was found to be peculiarly clever, and soon distanced
his masters, as Jesus was and did, when, at twelve years, he went into
the temple and astonished the doctors. He was always thoughtful, and
frequently remained alone. Once he wandered into a forest, (compare
Matthew iv. 1-11), in which he was found lost in thought. When obliged
to exhibit his talents, Siddartha was found to have every conceivable
excellence, bodily and mental He was, by parental desire, married to a
paragon of a wife, who showed her good sense by rejecting the use of a
veil. In this Sakya differs from Mary's son, who never married, being,
most probably, of the tribe of the Essenes. In later life Siddartha
discouraged wedlock and every form of love. But, during all his outward
happiness; Siddartha's thoughts ran upon the misery which he saw on
every side to be common in the world, and he entertained a hope that
he would be able to show man the road to a happy immortality. In these
ideas the teacher was encouraged by a god, who appeared to him by night,
and told him that the appointed time for the deliverer had come. This
comforter also recommended him to leave his wife, his wealth, his
father's house, and give up all he had, so as to be able to seek,
unencumbered, the way of salvation. Compare here the passage, Mark x.
20-30, wherein Jesus gives the same kind of advice as the angel gave
to Sakya Muni. Having become satisfied of his mission from God, he
resolutely abandoned everything, and, being really a scion of royalty,
he had much to renounce. Siddartha thus became a mendicant, dependent
upon others for food and raiment, and resembled that son of Mary, of
whom we read that he had not a residence wherein to lay his head (Matt.
viii. 20; Luke ix. 58). He was about twenty-nine years of age when he
thus became poor for the sake of mankind. Compare what is said of
Jesus, Luke iii. 23. Though Siddartha was opposed to the Brahmins, he
nevertheless studied their doctrines, as Mary's son did that of the
Hebrew theologians, thoroughly, under one of the wisest of them, for
many years. Then, leaving this teacher, he went about preaching and
doing good. So much were men impressed with his beauty, his piety, and
his doctrines, that they flocked in crowds to see him, and he taught
them whilst sitting on the brow of Mount Pandava--even kings came to
hear him. Compare here what is said of the Nazarene, Matt. iv. 23 to
Matt. viii. 1. Sakya was persecuted for a long time by a relative, who
ultimately became one of his most ardent disciples. Compare Matt. xvi.
22 and John xxi. 15, et seq. Siddartha's austerities and mortifications
of himself, in every conceivable way, were excessive during the next six
years, and these have been represented as a combat with the Devil, whose
kingdom he destroyed. At the end of this probation, Sakya Muni, finding
fasting and pain not profitable for eternal salvation, resumed the
ordinary human habits of eating, &c. This disgusted many of his
disciples, and "they walked no more with him." He was partly supported
by a slave woman, and was content to clothe himself with vestments taken
from the dead. Finally, this wonderful son of Maya heard within him a
voice, which told him that he was divine, the saviour of the world, and
the incarnation of the wisdom of God--Buddha, "the word" itself. Compare
John i. 1, et seq. This was confirmed by a miracle, and thus, at the
age of thirty-six, and at the foot of a fig tree, Sakya Muni received
a divine commission, "and the word was made flesh." But, though thus
divinely inspired, the saviour doubted his power to convert mankind, and
at the first he only preached his new doctrines to a few. Even in this
respect it is marvellous to see how closely the Christian story of Jesus
follows that of his predecessor Siddartha. Some opposed Sakya, but these
were soon converted by his majesty, and the glory with which he spake
the words--"Yes," he said, "I have come to see clearly both immortality
and the way to attain it; I am Buddha--I know all--I see all--I have
blotted out my faults, and am above all law." Recognizing in Siddartha
the teacher of mankind, the common people heard him gladly, and gave
him homage, and he, in return, taught them his full doctrine. The Indian
saviour then proceeded to the holy city, Benares, and taught there.
But though he spoke much, he neither dictated nor wrote--like Jesus,
subsequently, he made no provision by which his doctrines might be
perpetuated. From Benares he went to other places, some of which were
especially dear to him, and thus became sacred. In like manner Bethany
was sanctified by Jesus. Amongst others was a garden, given to him,
with a mansion, by a wealthy disciple, which a lively fancy might call a
Hindoo Gethsemane. In this garden Buddha made many disciples, and in
it the first council of his followers was held after his death. Another
favourite retreat was a plantation of mango trees, and this, like every
other spot that Siddartha is known to have visited, has been adorned by
the faithful with ornamental architecture in commemoration of him.

As may be supposed, Sakya, when he assailed the Brahmins, was in turn
opposed by them with persevering malevolence; the former was outspoken
and said what he thought of the priests--he called them hypocrites,
cheats, impostors, and the like--and they were apparently conscious that
they deserved such titles.

Here, again, we notice a singular parallel between the Hindoo saviour
and the Jewish one, who followed him after a long interval. Not that
there is anything wonderful in the founder of a new faith reviling the
ministers of one more ancient--nor in the priests of an established
church endeavouring to suppress, by punishments, the professors who
interfere with their repose. We know how the Christian fathers abused
and lampooned the faith of those whose practices they detested--how
Luther and his followers lashed the vices of the Papists, and how these
in their turn burned the new preachers--when they had a chance; how the
Nonconformists censured the Establishment, and how the Episcopal Church
has harried Independents and Presbyterians. But it is strange to
find both Sakya and Jesus inaugurating a religion of peace by fierce
invectives. We have not particulars respecting the choice of language
made use of by the Indian, but we can scarcely imagine that it could be
more to the purpose than the vituperation employed by the Hebrew. Jesus
says,--"Ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is
made ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves,"--"Ye
are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward,
but are within full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness" (Matt,
xxiii. 15-27). One cannot wonder that the Brahmins and the Pharisees,
who were objurgated as hypocrites, should retort upon their accusers,
prosecute the one and crucify the other.

As Sakya's influence increased, the power of the old priesthood
diminished, and there are accounts of many contests between the old
dispensers of Brahma's religion and the new saviour, which were held
before kings and people. In consequence of these disputes Buddha's life
was repeatedly in danger. But though often threatened, Siddartha died
peacefully when about eighty years old, beloved by many, respected by
more, worshipped as a divinity by his immediate disciples and intimate
friends, and venerated by all who had listened to his discourses.

There are a great many legends existent, and of very respectable
antiquity too, which tell of miracles performed by this very remarkable
Indian teacher; but the judicious historian, upon whose authority I am
at present relying (St. Hilaire), does not intermingle these with the
narrative of Siddartha's life. In this respect he shows greater judgment
than the scribes who first compiled the stories of Buddha and of Jesus,
both of whom conceived that human beings could not be converted to a new
style of belief without thaumaturgy.

The account of Sakya Muni and his religion would be incomplete did we
not add that he left behind him enthusiastic disciples who were eager
and successful in spreading his views. But many years, how many we do
not know with absolute certainty, elapsed ere any account was written
either of his life or of his teaching. Nor ought we to wonder at this,
for until time has been given to mankind, it cannot fairly estimate the
value of anything new; and when men do at length form, what they believe
to be, a perfect judgment of the importance of the doctrine which has
become deeply rooted, they are more eager to promulgate it in the world
than to record it by writing in the closet.

The new religion certainly spread extensively all over the vast
continent of Hindustan, and in the course of about three hundred years,
found an enthusiastic and powerful convert in the person of a king
called Asoka, who was reigning when the third convocation of Buddhists
was called, b.c. 307. This ruler was imbued with a missionary spirit,
and under his influence, preachers full of energy went not only
throughout India, but into China, Japan, Ceylon, and apparently into
every country to which ships, caravans, and the flow of commerce gave
them access, including Persia, Babylonia, Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and
the very populous and important emporium Alexandria. We may judge of the
fanaticism of these religious envoys by their success, and we may, as
is often done by Christian missionaries, test the real value of their
doctrine by its endurance, and its adaptability to the religious
wants of the human animal. If missionary success is a test of truth in
religion, Buddhism must be superior to Christianity. Buddah--for his
name is spelled variously--has more followers, according to competent
authorities, than Jesus, and if the depth and earnestness shown by the
converts to the two men could be weighed in impartial scales, we believe
that the preponderance would be in favour of the followers of the Indian

We readily allow that Buddhism has not developed in many matters like
Christianity has done. The Buddhism of to-day does not essentially
differ from that in the early ages of the faith; the followers of
Siddartha have not adopted the doctrines of the nations amongst which
they have settled. The Christianity of to-day, on the other hand, is so
widely different from that current in the first century of our era, that
it has been remarked, with great pungency, that if Jesus revisited us
now, he would be denounced as a heretic, and abused as a nonconformist.
His followers soon introduced politics into religion, and adopted the
fables and the doctrines of the Pagans amongst whom they dwelt, merely
changing certain names, and ascribing virtues and miracles to saints,
which the heathen attributed to Apollo, Mars, or Venus. Jesus, though a
Jew, never sacrificed, nor did his apostles, but his followers thought
prudent to filch the practice from the heathen; and, to smooth their
difficulty, they profess to turn bread and wine into flesh and blood,
and offer it up as an oblation upon their ecclesiastical altar. Jesus
knew nothing of purgatory; with him the rich man went direct to hell,
and Lazarus to Abraham's bosom. Modern Christians are wiser than their
teacher; for he disdained the learning of Egypt, his followers took
their purgatory and trinity therefrom. All this shows, that the faith
of Christians in their teacher has not been equal to the unbounded trust
felt by the Buddhist in his master's wisdom. Buddhism, moreover, has
neither taught nor sanctioned any system of persecution. Sakya, it is
true, encouraged men to make themselves miserable upon earth that they
might attain future immunity from woe, but he never ordered them to use
the sword or dragonnades to force other people to do so. The followers
of Jesus, on the other hand, have but too often founded their claim to
a happy immortality on making other men, whom they called heretics,
miserable, as during the period of the crusades against the Saracens,
the Albigenses, the Lollards, and the Waldenses. The Christians in many
ages seemed to argue thus:--As the painful death of Mary's son saved the
world, so I, by torturing a heretic, may save myself. This is an idea
of vicarious atonement which, though prevalent for centuries, has never
been committed to writing by those who hold it. We do not mean to allege
that the opinion referred to cannot be found in history, for it is from
such a source that our assertion comes. A belief, such as we refer to,
was promulgated amongst the Crusaders, and was fostered by the founders
of the Inquisition. Such an idea, too, is embodied in the word--"The
time cometh, that whosoever killeth you will think that he doeth God
service" (John xvi. 2).

We may, however, trace the idea of persecution in the early Christian
Scriptures. Paul, for example, when writing to the Corinthians (1
Epistle v. 3-5) gives such encouragement as he can to those who punish
an erring brother Christian, by delivering him over to Satan for the
destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the
Lord Jesus, and in (1st Tim. i. 20), the same author declares,--"I have
delivered Hymenseus and Alexander unto Satan that they may learn not to
blaspheme." The idea being, that by thus acting, both the Corinthians
and Paul were improving their own ecclesiastical condition.

As I may not have another available opportunity for introducing one or
two striking parallels between Sakya Muni and Jesus, I may mention
here that the former is represented as being tempted by and having
conversation with an evil spirit called Mâra, Evil one, Destroyer,
Devil, or Papiyan. In one of these confabulations Buddah says,--"I will
soon triumph over you--'desires' are your chief soldiers, then come
idleness, hunger and thirst, passions, sleepy indolence, fears, doubts,
angers, hypocrisy, ambition, the desire to be respected, and to have
renown, praise of yourself and blame for others--these are your black
allies, the soldiers of the burning demon. Your soldiers subjugate gods
and men, but not me, I shall crush them by wisdom, then what will you
do?" (Hilaire, p. 61). The sage is then, not unlike the so-called St.
Anthony, tempted by lovely woman, thirty-two lovely demons (Apsaras)
deploying all their charms. Then follows a third trial, and Mâra says
to Siddartha,--"I am the lord of desire, I am the master of the entire
world, the gods, the crowd of Dâvanas (spirits), men and beasts have
been subjugated by me and are in my power. Like them enter my domains,
rise up and speak like them." Buddha replied,--"If you are the lord of
desire you are not the lord of light. Look at me, I am the lord of the
law, you are powerless, and in your very sight I shall obtain supreme
intelligence," (p. 64, op. cit.). The demon makes one more effort, and
is again conquered, and then retires, tracing with an arrow these words
upon the ground--"My empire has passed away." It may be imagined that
the French author whom I quote is a partisan of the Indian sage; far
from it, he records such tales with regret, for he sees how strong an
influence they must have upon the perfect or imperfect authenticity
of the New Testament and the story of Jesus. The similarity of the two
histories is heightened by the legend before noticed, that Buddha went
to Heaven to convert his mother, whilst Jesus is said to have gone down
to Hades to preach to the spirits in prison, with the implied intention
of converting them to the faith which he preached.

It will doubtless have occurred to anyone reading the preceding pages,
if he be but familiar with the New Testament, that either the Christian
histories called Gospels have been largely influenced by Buddhist's
legends, or that the story of Siddartha has been moulded upon that
of Jesus. The subject is one which demands and deserves the greatest
attention, for if our religion be traceable to Buddhism, as the later
Jewish faith is to the doctrines of Babylonians, Medes, and Persians,
we must modify materially our notions of "inspiration" and "revelation."
Into this inquiry St. Hilaire goes as far as documentary evidence allows
him, and Hardy in _Legends and Theories of the Buddhists_ also enters
upon it in an almost impartial manner. From their conclusions there can
be no reasonable doubt that the story of the life of Sakya Muni, such as
we have described it, certainly existed in writing ninety years before
the birth of Jesus; consequently, if the one life seems to be a copy of
the other, the gospel writers must be regarded as the plagiarists.

In the story of Buddha, we have eliminated the miraculous part, and
exhibited him simply as a remarkable man. Nevertheless, in the writings
of his followers, miracles in abundance are assigned to him. Whether
these existed in the original history Hardy doubts, and his remarks
are so apposite that we reproduce them (op. cit. p. xxviii). "Upon
the circumstances of this first rehearsal (of the life and doctrine of
Siddartha), most important consequences depend. If the miracles ascribed
to Buddha can be proved to have been recorded of him at the time of his
death, this would go far towards proving that the authority to which
he laid claim was his rightful prerogative. They were of too public
character to have been ascribed to him then if they had not taken place;
so that if it was openly declared by his contemporaries, by those who
had lived with him in the same monastery, that he had been repeatedly
visited by Sekra and other Deivas; and that he had walked through the
air and visited the heavenly world in the presence of many thousands,
and those the very persons whom they addressed, we ought to render to
him the homage awarded to him by even his most devoted followers. But
the legend of the early rehearsal has nothing to support it beyond
the assertion of authors who lived at a period long subsequent. The
testimony of contemporaneous history presents no record of any event
that quadrates with the wonderful powers attributed to the 'rahals,'
which would undoubtedly not have been wanting if these events had really
taken place."

The reader of this extract will now naturally turn his attention to the
Christian gospels, and inquire into the time when they were written, and
whether the arguments used by Hardy, for disbelieving the miracles
of Buddha, do not equally disprove the authenticity of the miracles
attributed to Jesus. We can find nowhere, in contemporary history--and
there is an adequate account thereof, both Jewish and Roman--any records
of the wonders said to have been done in Judea by the son of Mary.
Though he was noticed by a certain writer in the Talmud, under the name
of Ben Panther, that book contains no account of the marvellous works
recorded in the gospels, nor any reference to his miraculous power. The
Romans who dwelt in Jerusalem knew nothing of any real miracle, though
Herod is reported to have noticed some gossiping accounts of John's
successor. We do not find a single reference to any of the wonderful
events told in the gospels in any epistle written by those who
"companied with Jesus"--except the assertion that he had risen from the
dead, to be found in 1 Corinthians xv. and elsewhere--whose value is
problematical Still farther, we have tolerably good evidence to show
that the Gospels were written at a time when they could not be tested
by those people in whose presence the wonders were said to have been
wrought. The narrative of John, for example, is, by scholars, supposed
to have been written more than a century, probably one hundred and fifty
years, after the crucifixion, and the others seem to have been composed
for the benefit of those who did not live in, or know Jerusalem and
Judea intimately. They resemble, in almost every respect, the stories
told of such Roman saints as Francis of Assisi, Bernard, Carlo Borromeo,
and Ignatius Loyola, which were always composed long after the death,
and out of the presence of every one of those who could deny or
controvert them. However much, or little, we may credit the biographies
of Buddha and Jesus, we cannot for a moment doubt, that the two
individuals were instrumental in founding forms of religion, which,
by the aid of missionaries, spread over a vast extent of the habitable
globe. Unlike that of Mahomet, the faiths referred to were promulgated
by peaceful persuasion rather than by the sword, and by the power
of eloquence, example, and precept, rather than by the influence of
miracles. If, for the sake of argument, we grant that every specimen
of thaumaturgy which his followers attribute to Jesus is correctly
reported, we must allow also that his power of making converts by
teaching, preaching, and wonder working, was inferior to that of his
followers, who taught, preached, and proselytized without performing
many, if any miracles. If we assert that miraculous powers are necessary
for the establishment and propagation of a new religion, then we must,
to be consistent with ourselves, believe in the thaumaturgy of the
Buddhists, and the divine mission of Sakya Muni. If, on the other hand,
we deny that Siddartha was an incarnate god or saviour, was not divinely
inspired, and performed no real miracle, then it is clear that the
miracles, which Jesus is said to have achieved, were wholly unnecessary,
and not required in any way to upset an old religion, to found a new, or
to spread it when established.

The philosopher may pause here, with profit to himself, and inquire
whether there is, or there are, any new form or forms of religion which
has or have sprung up within his own observation, and if so, whether
it or they has or have been based upon thaumaturgy--and, if one or more
have been so founded, whether one shows evidence of stability.

Few can deny that Mormonism is a form of belief which has a considerable
number of adherents, a body of earnest missionaries, and a laity whose
faith and practice have been sorely tested by hardship. Yet there has
not been a single miracle performed by its prophets. It is reported
that its founder announced that he would perform one in the sight of
all Israel and of the sun, but when the time came he said, that if the
spectators believed that he could do what was promised, that was quite

Spiritualism, on the other hand, is a new sort of theosophy, ostensibly
founded and supported wholly by thaumaturgy; its disciples have induced
themselves to believe, against their original ideas, that we are not
only surrounded by the spirits of the departed, but that these can be
brought into connection with us by means of certain individuals, called
mediators or mediums--that these have such power, over the invisible
beings hovering in the air, that the souls of the dead may be made to
shake the tables of the living, and lift up their sofas to the ceiling.
The miracles are believed in by many, but Spiritualism lags far behind
the Mormon theology, and probably always will do.

We may regard this part of our subject in yet another light. Let us,
for example, suppose that the Buddhists and the Christians succeed in
persuading each other of the incorrectness of the miraculous element
in their respective books, does it therefore follow, that any essential
part of the creed of either one or other must be altered? The doctrines
of Siddartha would not be valueless even if his followers disbelieved
in his power to fly as a bird, or cross a river on the surface of the
water--nor would those of Mary's son be proved to be worthless if it
were certain that he never marched over a billowy sea, and that he was
not really killed by crucifixion. The disciples of Sakya Muni believed
in a resurrection of the dead, without having had the advantage of
a real or imaginary reappearance of their master after his supposed
decease. The Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans, had all an Elysium to which
the good folk went. The Red Indian believes in a future life and happy
hunting grounds (so we are told), although he has never heard of Judea.
The rude Northmen and Danes had also their Valhalla to go to after
death, long ere they were Christians. Still farther, it is to be
noticed, by the close observer, that the Jews at the time of Jesus, and
some of the Greeks about the same period, were divided in their opinions
respecting the existence of men in a future state. The Sadducees,
holding fast to the books of Moses and the Prophets, denied the
existence of a resurrection, of angels or of spirits. The Pharisees,
on the other hand, influenced apparently by Babylonian and Persian
theology, had faith in all three. That this belief in a future life was
not commonly held by the poor folk in Judea, we infer from Mark ix. 10,
wherein we are told that Peter, James, and John were "questioning
with one another what the rising from the dead should mean." That the
Athenians were equally careless about what is now called "heaven and
hell," we judge from Acts xvii. 18, wherein we are told that Paul's
preaching about "Jesus and the resurrection" was a strange affair, and
from the thirty-second verse of the same chapter, wherein it is said
that the doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus was received with

I am quite aware that it may be objected to these remarks that the doubt
about the rising from the dead does not point to a general resurrection,
but simply to the return to life of one particular individual. This,
however, only removes the difficulty to a short distance, for Greek
story tells us of the annual return of Proserpine from the realms
of Pluto to the light of day, and Adonis was yearly resuscitated, in
mythical narrative. For the Hebrew, the rising from the dead ought not
to be a wonderful matter. Was it not told in their Scriptures how, when
certain persons were burying a man, the bearers in a fright threw the
corpse into the sepulchre of Elijah, whose bones had such efficacy that
they revived the dead man, who stood on his feet (2 Kings xiii. 21). We
find also, from Mark vi. 16, Luke ix. 9, that Herod had a full belief in
the power of John to rise again from the death to which that monarch had
consigned him. The sceptic may doubt the ability of the two evangelists
to read what was passing through the royal mind when Jesus and his works
were brought before its notice, but he cannot doubt that the writer was
aware that in Herod's time there was a belief in the resurrection of
individuals. Indeed, we find in the verse following that which tells
of the Apostle's bewilderment, Mark ix. 11, a question, "why say the
scribes that Elias must first come?" To which the reply is that the
prophet has come. We are constrained, therefore, to believe that
Jesus was not the first who rose from the dead; nay, even he himself
commissioned his disciples to "cleanse the lepers, and raise the dead"
(Matth. x. 8). What, then, is the value of the arguments that Paul
builds upon the assertion that Christ is "the first fruits of them that

This being so, we may fairly ask, whence did Mary's son derive the ideas
which he promulgated of a resurrection, and of salvation, and why had
a sophistical writer like Paul to adopt the clumsy contrivance of
asserting that Jesus not only had risen, but that he was the first
individual who had done so, to demonstrate that the dead really did
return again to life? Paul's argument, indeed, shows how little he
knew or had thought upon the subject, for he distinctly preaches a
resurrection of the body, not of the soul, a belief adopted into the
Apostles' creed. Yet, at the very period when the minds of Christians
were thus unformed, the disciples of Buddha, to a man, believed in a
future "Nirvana," in which "there should be no more sorrow nor crying,
neither should there be any more pain, and where all earthly things
should have passed away" (see Rev. xxi. 4). We are not yet in the
position to prove that Mary's son and certain of his followers received
their inspiration from disciples of Siddartha, but there is certainly
a strong presumption in favour of the possibility, much evidence of its
probability, and nothing whatever to disprove it. To this, however, we
will return by and by.

Ere we proceed to examine into the nature of the doctrines of Sakya Muni
and of Jesus, we may cast a glance over the condition of the men whom
they converted. In both instances, it is not too much to say that
they all were "priest-ridden" in the fullest meaning of the term. The
residents in Modern India and Papal Rome, until a short time ago, well
understood what the term signifies; day by day, and almost hour by hour,
there is, or was in these places, some ceremony to be attended, some
prayer to be uttered, some confession to be made, some contribution
to be given to monastery, church, or priest. Penances are, and were
inflicted of the most painful, sometimes of the most disgusting kind.
The last I heard of was in Wales, where a man was ordered to lie down
at the church door as a mat, upon which the faithful were to wipe their
feet. Both in India and Italy, men, women, and children alike are, or
were, taught to regard themselves as the servants, and even slaves of
the hierarchy, and their money is, or was, alienated from wives and
children to swell the coffers of spiritual tyrants. Perpetual terrors of
hell are sounded, until those hearers, whose hearts are impressionable,
are habitually haunted by imaginary horrors, each one of which has to be
bought off by a sort of hush-money paid to the priest, who has invented,
adopted, or described them.

Such was the condition of England and France prior to the Reformation
and the Revolution.

So long as men are debased by their guides, and allow themselves,
with the docility of a well-trained dog, to be ruled, and so long as
tyrannical flamens can wring an ever increasing tax from the people,
there is probably nothing more in the breast of each than a vague
feeling of dislike, or regret, at the existence of such things, which
rarely receives utterance for fear of punishment. But as soon as a
man, more bold than his neighbours, raises a standard of revolt, whose
success appears to be secure, the bulk of the oppressed first sympathize
with, yet fear to join him, then, after watching eagerly the course of
events, and admiring the boldness of men more resolute than themselves,
they timidly make common cause with the reformer, and, if circumstances
favour them, they become enthusiastic. As the news of the mental revolt
swells, the people, tired of oppression, rise in their might and sweep
away the hierarchy, or compel it to abandon its pretensions. Buddha and
Christ were such leaders as we here describe, and such was the course
gone through by their followers. The timid Peter denying Jesus, and yet
afterwards boldly preaching him up, is an example almost too well known
to be quoted.

We are now in a position to inquire into the nature of Siddartha's

Premising that his doctrines were collected at least 200 years B. C.,
the first which we notice is one that he not only inculcated by language
but enforced by his abiding example. He taught that the comforts and
pleasures of this life act as fetters, to chain man's spirit to earth;
that day by day they necessitate the cultivation of propensities
and passions more or less bestial in their nature; and that as these
strengthen, so the individual who possessed them would be born again,
after his death, to some form of misery and woe in which he would have
to atone for the human infirmities which he had not conquered. To escape
from the possibility of such an event, Sakya counselled his disciples
to wean themselves, as far as possible, from every sensual passion; to
mortify the body by fasting, so as to make it more readily separable
from the inner man; to renounce all comfort except that of doing good;
and believing in a state of perfect future salvation.

A man, he taught, must abandon everything as valueless compared with the
attainment of salvation or _nirvana_; he must be wholly dependent upon
others for food and raiment; he must take no thought for the morrow, and
live like a bird or lily, laying up no store; for certainly a disciple
of Sakya ought not to undertake any trade or other means of gaining a
livelihood, lest it should ensnare his spirit and tie it down to the
grovelling things of earth.

This was the rule for the very faithful, the infirm believers had a more
lenient code.

If we now turn to the doctrine said to have been taught by Jesus and
his disciples, we shall find a close parallel between it and that of the
Indian teacher. For example, John says (1 Epis. ii. 15,16) "Love not
the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love
the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the
world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eye, and the pride of
life, is not of the Father but is of the world." Paul says (Rom. xii. 2)
"Be not conformed to this world, but be ye transformed by the renewing
of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and
perfect will of God." James also says (ch. iv. 4) "Know ye not that the
friendship of the world is enmity with God; whosoever, therefore,
will be a friend of the world, is the enemy of God." Again, we find in
Matthew xix., Mark x., and Luke xii., the story of a young man who was
possessed of wealth, probably scarcely less than that of Sakya Muni,
and whose life had been conscientiously conducted, according to the
commandments which he knew, and who having heard of Jesus, came to ask
him if there were a more certain way of salvation than the one he was
in. To him the reply is,--"If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that
thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven,
and come and follow me." In the verses, moreover, which follow, there is
a remark from the same teacher to the effect, that "every one that hath
forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife,
or children, or lands, for my name's sake, shall receive an hundred
fold, and shall inherit everlasting life."

Once again, we find an exact counterpart of Buddha's teaching in the
sermon on the Mount, which is recorded in Matth. vi. 25-34--"I say unto
you, take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat or what ye shall
drink, nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more
than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air, for
they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns, yet your
heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?... Why
take ye thought for raiment, consider the lilies of the field... if God
so clothe the grass... shall he not much more clothe you? Therefore
take no thought, saying, what shall we eat, or what shall we drink, or
wherewithal shall we be clothed?... Take therefore no thought for the
morrow... sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." Other similar
passages might readily be given, but the above suffice to demonstrate
the Buddhistic teaching of the prophet of Nazareth.

Both start from the idea that death, disease, pain, and misery is the
result of sin--and both imagine that sin consists in living and acting
upon the natural wants, necessities, and propensities of human kind.
Both imagine that to be natural is to be vile, and that salvation is to
be attained by resisting every impulse which is common to mankind Man
desires to eat when hungry--this is a weakness to be combated; a mother
loves her babe--this must not be tolerated; a youth covets a damsel in
marriage--this is a snare to draw both down to hell; celibacy must be
enforced. The argument runs thus,--If any one enjoys life he is sure to
fear death, and will certainly pay for his pleasures; but if any one has
the resolution to pass his years on earth in misery like that of hell,
he will be glad to die, and fearless of any place of torment; use has
bred a habit in him and no torture can come amiss.

Some Christian author has ventured to assert "religion never was
designed to make our pleasures less," but he was a conspicuous heretic.
Buddha's doctrine was founded upon the assertion that life is always
short, and that it is not worth a man's while to buy a few years of
enjoyment with myriads of years of agony. Jesus preached that the Jews'
time was short, for they, and most probably all the world besides, were
to be burned up any day within the duration of the generation--what then
was the use of laying up stores of grain, of buying fine clothes, and
keeping wine to get mellow?

Both preachers were equally short sighted and absurd in their teaching,
for if their disciples were to live upon alms, and all repented and
adopted the doctrine, it is clear that all would starve together, and
self immolation by hunger was repugnant to both prophets. If no one made
clothes all must go naked, and indecency was forbidden. If no one was
to lay up money, there would be no one to pay for work, yet toil was
considered to be a duty. If every one was to live from hand to mouth,
who would keep a calf until it became a heifer, or a lamb to become a

It is difficult to conceive that two individuals could have worked out
such a scheme of salvation independently, and the minuteness of the
resemblances induces me to believe that Jesus, possibly without knowing
it, first adopted and then promulgated in Judea the doctrines of the
Indian sage.

Following, again, the lead of St. Hilaire (_Le Bouddha, &c_, 1860, pp.
81, et seq.), we find that Siddartha taught 600 years B. C., that death
and all the miseries of mankind were due to the passions, desires, and
sins of man; that all this misery would cease in Nirvana (of which we
shall speak by and by), and that the means to attain to this salvation
is to keep the true faith; to have a correct judgment; to be truthful in
all things, and to hold every false thing in abhorrence; always to act
and to think with a pure and honest mind; to adopt a religious life,
i.e., one that is in no respect worldly, not owing even subsistence
to anything which might be tainted with sin; to practise a careful
and earnest study of the law; to cultivate a good memory, so that all
mistakes in conduct may be remembered if they have occurred, and be
avoided in the future; and frequent meditation, i.e., an abstraction
of the mind from self consciousness, a thinking of nothing, so as
to approximate the soul to Nirvana. These were Buddha's fundamental
verities. It is put more shortly thus,--"Practising no evil, advancing
in the exercise of every virtue, purifying one's self in mind and will,
this is indeed the doctrine of all the Buddhas." _Journal of Royal
Asiatic Society_, vol. xix. p. 473.

We may once more stop to compare the teaching of Siddartha with that
familiar to Christians. Paul says, for example (Rom. v. 12) "As by one
man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; so death passed upon
all men, for that all have sinned;" again, in chap, vi. 23, "the wages of
sin is death;" again, in chap. vii. 5, "when we were in the flesh the
motions of sins... did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto
death;" and again, chap. viii. 6, "to be carnally minded is death; but
to be spiritually minded is life and peace." We may next refer to what
some call the fundamental teaching of Jesus, as enunciated in answer
to the question of the young man "What shall I do that I may inherit
eternal life?" Matthew xix., Mark x., "If thou wilt enter into life,
keep the commandments. Thou shalt do no murder, thou shalt not commit
adultery, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not bear false witness,
honour thy father and thy mother, and thou shalt love thy neighbour as
thyself." And when the young man asserted that he had done so, all
that he was told to do in addition, was to sell his property, give the
proceeds to the poor, and become a follower of Jesus, who had not where
to lay his head, and to live upon the charity of other people. I must,
however, notice in passing, that the teaching of Jesus is not by
any means so uniform as that of Sakya, for we find the former here
instructing a young man to do no murder, but at a subsequent period,
that of the last supper, Jesus exhorts his disciples, and through them,
possibly, the very man to whom he rehearsed the commandments, thus "He
that hath no sword, let him sell his garment and buy one," (Luke xxii
36). Certainly a direct encouragement to homicide.

For the benefit of the Buddhists a short formula of faith has been
framed, which is to this effect--"Tathâgata (another name of Sakya
Muni), in the proper condition, has explained that our present state
is produced by antecedent causes, and the great Sramana, or Ascetic
(another cognomen of Siddartha), has told us how to avoid the effects of
sin. The effects are pain and actual existence, having for their cause
past sins; the cause is the production of suffering: the cessation of
these effects is Nirvana, the teaching of Tathâgata, or of the great
Sramana, is the way which leads to Nirvana." The Christian formula runs,
"As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." To this
we may compare a Nepaulese saying, "Arise, leave your possession, take
up the law of Buddha, and break asunder the power of death."

In addition to the fundamental maxim given on the preceding page, Sakya
Muni added many others, amongst them, "Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt
not steal, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not lie, thou
shalt not get drunk;" others are of lighter consequence--"thou shalt
not eat out of due season, thou shalt not watch dances or theatrical
representations, or listen to songs or music, thou shalt abstain from
all ornamentation of dress, &c., and from perfume; thou shalt not have
a large bed, nor ever take gold or silver; thou shalt remain inflexibly

To those who desired to become disciples and personal friends of Buddha,
it was ordained that (a) They should only be clothed with rags taken
from the cemeteries, or from heaps of refuse, or found on the high road.
(b) That there should only be three of these vestments, and that each
should be stitched by the wearer, and that they should be covered with
a cloak of yellow wool (c) That the food should be as simple as
possible--a rule adopted by Christian saints, but not by Bishops.
(d) That all should live upon alms and offerings, which should be begged
for, in perfect silence, from house to house, and placed in a vessel
made of wood--a plan adopted by certain Christian mendicant friars.
(e) That only one meal should be taken during the day--a rule to be found in
some Christian monasteries. (f) That no aliments, even the most simple,
should be taken after noon, the rest of the day after this period should
be devoted to teaching and meditation. (g) The faithful should live in
the wilderness or forest, and not in towns or villages. Hence Christian
hermits lived in the deserts of the Thebaid. (h) They should only
shelter themselves under the boughs and leaves of trees. (i) They should
sit with the back supported only by the trunk chosen for refuge.
(j) They should sleep sitting, and not lying down. (k) They should never
change their sitting mat from the place where it was put first. (l) The
disciples should unite together, at least upon one night in the month,
to meditate amongst the tombs upon the instability of human things.
Mendicity, chastity, and asceticism were essential parts of Sakya Muni's
practice, and St. Hilaire (op. cit., p. 87) naively remarks that these
certainly are not the means for making good citizens, though they may
produce good saints.

We may notice, in passing, that the pious followers of Sramana (the one
who mastered his passions) were very much more proper, in our eyes, than
some of the Brahmins, from whom they seceded, inasmuch as the former
wore sufficient garments to cover themselves decently, whilst the
latter, whom the Greeks called "Gymnosophists," went without any more
clothing than the horse or ass. It is also to be noticed that Siddartha
provided a sort of code of laws to be observed by those who wished to
adopt his method of salvation, without becoming altogether "religious."
These consisted in the enforcement of chastity, purity, patience,
courage, contemplation, and knowledge--these were, it was asserted, the
transcendent virtues which would pass man across the river of death.
They would not land him there in life, but whilst these were adopted as
the rule of life, the aspirant was in the right way to attain "Nirvana."

The charity which Sakya Muni ordained was universal, extending even
to what we call the lower animals, and one example is given in which a
disciple cast himself into the sea to save a boat's crew in danger of
death from a storm, whilst another tells of Buddha giving himself as
food to a tigress, who had not sufficient milk for her young ones.

Again, the precept against "lying" included false witness, and all that
we call "bad language," as well as trifling chat, called "badinage,"
"wit," and the like. Persons were not only to avoid wrong, but they
were to cultivate every good habit, or what we designate each "Christian
grace." It was inculcated, that beauty of language, or eloquence,
pleasantness of voice, and a due respect to cadence should be studied,
so as to make their teaching popular, a precept not much regarded
amongst ordinary Christian divines. Beyond other things, humility was
inculcated, not that which exists on the lips only, and is apparently
compatible with the determined endeavour to exercise unlimited power,
which has been conspicuous in the Papacy for a millennium at least, but
that which conceals greatness and demonstrates littleness. Thus there
is a legend of Buddha refusing, at the request of a king, to exhibit any
miracle to convince his opponents, his answer being, "Great king, I do
not teach the law to my hearers by saying to them, 'Go, oh you religious
men! and before Brahmins and house-holders perform, by means of a
supernatural power, miraculous things, which no other men can effect,'
but I say to them, in teaching them the law, 'Live, oh ye pious ones, so as
to conceal your good works, and to let your sins be seen.'"

At this point we pause once more to draw a parallel between Siddartha
and Jesus, though, in the delineation of the doctrine of the latter,
we shall see a discrepancy which appears to indicate two distinct
authorships in the recorded story. We refer, in the first place, to Luke
vi, wherein we find, v. 27, et seq., "Love your enemies, do good to
them which hate you, bless them that curse you, and pray for them which
despitefully use you, and to him that smiteth thee on the one cheek
offer also the other" (compare Matt. v. 39, 40). Again, Matt. vi. 3,
"When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand
doeth," and in v. 6, "When thou prayest, enter into thy closet," &c.;
v. 16, "When ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance."
Side by side with this we may place the directions given in Matt, x.,
where we find that Jesus called his disciples unto him, and gave them
"power against unclean spirits to cast them out, and to heal all manner
of sickness and all manner of disease "--they were, moreover, "to
cleanse the lepers and raise the dead," i.e.t the disciples were to
perform miracles; but if they, in their wanderings and teachings, should
be rejected, despised, or affronted, the apostles were to shake off the
dust of their feet against the persecutors, being certain that condign
punishment would fall upon the offenders.

It is curious that in the histories of the Indian and the Jew, there
should be analogous discrepancies between records of their sayings and
doings. Siddartha and Jesus are represented, each of them, as declining
to perform miracles when asked or expected to do so. Nevertheless, in
the same histories we find marvellous accounts of the wonders which they
performed. We have seen the clashing reports of Buddha, the following
reports of the son of Mary are equally discordant. To make the
dissonance more striking, we place the passages in parallel columns.

[Illustration: 141]

At what time after the death of Jesus the miracles recorded of him were
fabricated we can scarcely tell. If, with most critical scholars, we
believe that John's Gospel was written by some Neoplatonic Greek, at
least a century and a-half after the period alluded to, we must also
believe, either that all the legends about the casting out of devils by
the son of Mary were invented after the time when "John" lived, or else,
which is probable, that the last evangelist gave no credit to them, if
they did already exist; and if the good sense and superior knowledge of
"John" led him to discredit the tale about the legion of devils, which
left one man* to enter into about two thousand pigs, I do not see that
other Christians are obliged to believe the legend. From considerations
which we advanced in the articles Prophets, Prophecy, &c., in _Ancient
Faiths_ (Vol. II., p. 515), and especially in the history of Barcochab,
who was supposed to be the Messiah by some Jews in A.D. 131-5, we argued
that new matter was certainly introduced into the story of Jesus told by
Matthew, Mark, and John, as late as the era of that enthusiastic Hebrew
leader. We noticed the doubts that existed in the minds of many early
Christians as to whether this redoubtable warrior was not "the man"
of whom the prophets spake. We may now still further notice that
he professed to perform miracles, which appear to be thoroughly
contemptible when weighed against those of the gospels. To our mind
it is inconceivable that the followers of Mary's son could have been
acquainted with the marvellous works attributed to Jesus in the gospels,
and, yet be shaken by such a man as Barcochab. We notice, also, that not
one "Epistle" writer refers to them--consequently, we believe that
all the wondrous tales told of the prophet of Nazareth, must have been
introduced after the time of Hadrian (in whose reign Barcochab was
destroyed), and were fabricated by pious Christians, to prove that the
Messiah, in whom they believed, was infinitely superior to that warrior
whom others had for a time trusted. Both, to be sure, had been killed by
the Romans, and thus both might seem upon a par, but if history could
be cooked--and there is probably no single history existing which is
strictly true--to show that the first performed a hundred times the
wonderful works of the second, he would thus become greatly exalted. See
especially Matt. xxiv. 24, in confirmation of this view. Be this as it
may, there is, I understand, solid foundation for the assertion that
the New Testament, such as we have it now, might have been composed,
altered, curtailed, added to, remodelled, or otherwise fashioned, at
any period between the years a.d. 50 and 300, after which change was
difficult, though we cannot say impossible. A corresponding statement is
true of the books which record the life and doctrines of Buddha.

     * In Matthew viii. 30-32, we are told that there were two
     men who were possessed with the devils which subsequently
     entered the herd of swine;--in Mark v. 11-13, the spirits
     are represented as being concentrated in one person, and in
     Luke viii. 32-33, the tale appears in the same guise as in
     Mark--only the man is made to call himself "Legion," on
     account of the multitude of devils living inside him. In
     cases of this kind one need not be rigidly particular, for
     it signifies little whether the spirits were one thousand in
     one man or two thousand in two--the wonder is that spirits
     could talk--fly away from man to pig, or commit suicide in
     the bodies of the swine when they might have done the same
     thing in one or two men. It is clear from the miracle that
     certain devils change their habits when they take up their
     habitation in porcine instead of human beings.

At this period of our parallel we may profitably examine the New
Testament, and ascertain whether we cannot extract from it a tolerably
fair account of the life and teaching of Jesus, without including
therein a single act of thaumaturgy. We fearlessly assert, not only that
we can, but that the miracles are not an essential part of his doctrine.
For example, we learn that Jesus was the son of a woman betrothed to a
carpenter, who became pregnant ere yet the ceremony of marriage was gone
through. Her affianced husband did not make her frailty an excuse for
annulling the contract, possibly for a good, and to him a sufficient
reason. He married the already fruitful Mary, and her child passed
amongst the neighbours as being the son of Joseph. This we learn from
Matt. xiii. 55, where we find the people saying, "Is not this the
carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren James,
and Joses, and Simon, and Judas, and his sisters, are they not all
with us?" a statement repeated in similar terms, Mark vi. 3. This short
account is important, since it completely destroys the papal doctrine
that Mary was "ever virgin," for she bore at least four other sons
than her first born, and two daughters. At no period was Jesus regarded
either by the family or by the neighbours as illegitimate, nor is there
any reason to believe that Joseph looked upon him otherwise than as his
own son. Indeed, in Luke ii. 42-48, the carpenter distinctly appears to
act as if he recognized Jesus as his own offspring--in verse 48, Mary
says, "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold thy father and I
have sought thee sorrowing," asserting as plainly as words could speak,
that Joseph had begotten Jesus. It is true that the youth replied, "Wist
ye not that I must be about my father's business?" but the story adds
the important information, that the couple did not understand the

It is clear to us, that if the legend of the impregnation of Mary by the
Holy Ghost, after that event had been previously announced to her, and
if, as we are told in Matt. i. 20, Joseph had been informed by "the
angel of the Lord" that the foetus in Mary's womb was begotten by the
Holy Ghost, it would not have been possible for Joseph and his wife
to have misunderstood the words of Jesus. The very wonder which they
expressed demonstrates the belief of the parents that there was nothing
unusual in the conception. The father Joseph knew that he had borne his
share in the event, and Mary knew that she had not conversed with any
other man; consequently, for her son to indicate another father than
Joseph, naturally mystified her. We therefore cannot allow the assertion
to pass, that the conception and birth of Jesus was in itself a miracle.
But as we shall revert to the subject in a separate chapter, we will say
no more about it here.

After living and working with his parents for some years, Jesus was
attracted by the preaching of his cousin John, whose doctrines were
essentially Buddhistic and Essenian. Like the Hindoos, he used water as
an emblem of purification, and urged his hearers to repentance and good
conduct. What motives urged John to become "the voice of one crying in
the wilderness," we have no means of judging, but the gospel narratives
tell us that he, like Jesus, believed in the almost immediate
destruction of the world. His text was, "Repent, for the kingdom of
heaven is at hand." Jesus adopted the view, and promulgated it more
extensively. His text was the same as that of his cousin, but more
expanded. "The kingdom of heaven means glory to the righteous, and
everlasting life; misery and everlasting destruction to the wicked.
The time is near, hasten to escape from the coming vengeance."
The earnestness of Jesus, his acquaintance with the prophets, his
self-denial and his constant kindness, endeared him to the common
people. The same virtues had a like effect in the case of Buddha.
Amongst villagers and poverty-stricken fishermen he soon won his way,
and every one had some story to tell of him, which increased in wonder
as it passed from mouth to ears, and from these to the tongue of the
listeners. Those who know how an ordinary circumstance may gradually
become described as miraculous, even in England, can well imagine how
the miracles of Jesus and Siddartha were produced.

In time Jesus endeavoured to induce the magnates of Jerusalem to adopt
his doctrine, and to trust in repentance for salvation rather than in
sacrifice, but the enthusiast could not overcome the ritualists, and
they at once began to weigh their power against the influence of
Jesus upon the multitude. After a time the priests were convinced that
supremacy rested with them, and the man who preached a religion of the
heart, was sacrificed by the adherents of ceremonial. Such a fight is
common, as we see around us. The Evangelicals and the Ritualists of
to-day, resemble the followers of Jesus and of Moses. When the latter
appeared in the guise of powerful Romanist rulers, they put down the
former, but now when the former are the strongest, they endeavour to
depress the latter.

After the death, or the withdrawal of Jesus from public life--for we
have no belief in the legends of his resurrection--considering that
his apparent decease was a prolonged fainting fit, for had he been dead
blood would not have followed a spear wound as it did--the disciples of
Jesus spread his fame largely. Whilst Jesus was with them they clung
to him; when he was no more, each man became a preacher, and then
Christianity spread until it met with Buddhism in Egypt, and thus became
developed in a peculiar direction. Then came the gospels, which made
Jesus a second Sakya. Although we can readily conceive that Jesus, like
his paltry successor, Joe Smith, the Mormon, captivated the minds of
hundreds without performing any supernatural deed, and that his "elders"
vastly increased the number of those who believed in him, yet it is
clear, that ancient and modern theologians were and are anxious to
establish the reality of the thaumaturgy attributed to Jesus, that
they may appeal to it to demonstrate that he was the son of God, an
incarnation of a portion of the creative mind--"the word," or _logos_,
having the same relationship to Jehovah, the "I Am," the Self-Existent
One, as Buddha, "the understanding" had to "Brahma," The Supreme One.

Accepting this issue for the sake of argument, we affirm once again
that, as the miracles of Sakya and of the son of Mary are equally
unreliable, or equally true, Buddha was as much a true son of God as
Christ was, or that Jesus was no more an incarnation of Jehovah, than
Siddartha was of Brahma. Jehovah and Brahma being merely different names
for the same great Being. That miracles are not necessary to the spread
of a new faith, the history of modern Presbyterianism and Mormonism
distinctly proves. For further remarks, we refer the reader to
the article Miracle in the preceding volume. We will postpone to a
subsequent page what we have to say respecting the asceticism of the
Buddhists, and that which was prevalent in the early Christian church.
For the present, we resume our account of Sakya Muni's teaching as
described by St. Hilaire.

Founded upon his doctrine of absolute humility, he established the
custom of confession amongst his apostles or disciples, and amongst
those who venerated his teaching, though they did not' become his
immediate followers. This confession was not that simply auricular one
enforced by Ritualists, but it was made twice a month, at the new and
the full moon, before the great Sramana and the congregation, in a clear
voice. Powerful kings are reported to have followed this practice.

It will not require more than a minute's reflection to see that the
Buddhistic system of confession was far superior--as regards the end
in view--than that which has been adopted by Romanists and Ritualists.
Sakya and James (ch. v. 16) advised the practice in question, that
the sinner might be humiliated in his own eyes, and deterred from the
necessity of having again to acknowledge a fall from virtue before a
congregation of the faithful. Popes and Protestant Ritualists, on the
contrary, use confession for the purpose of inquiring into the character
of every penitent, and the practice is adopted by the sinner, not with
the view of repentance, but to wipe out periodically a sin which is
habitually renewed.

If confessions were made before a congregation, instead of to a priest
in a closet, or some other secret spot, there would not then be current
so many scandalous stories as there are--too true, alas, in many
instances--respecting women who have been debauched under the guise
of religion, and priests who have prostituted the ordinances of their
church, until they have made them pander to vice, and act as seeds to
produce immorality.

Though personally Tathâgata preached celibacy, he had not, like some of
the so-called saints of Christianity, any feeling of disrespect towards
family ties. He always spoke affectionately of his mother, though he
never knew her, and the legends say that he endeavoured to convert her
in heaven. His command that all his followers should honour their father
and mother was repeatedly enforced, that being only second to the duty
of learning, venerating, and keeping the law. It even went so high as to
include endeavours to teach the parents if they were ignorant.

One of the main duties of every teacher appointed by Siddartha, was to
go about preaching the law, and exhorting his hearers to learn and to
obey it. But no one, on any account, was to introduce the persecuting
element. No respect whatever was to be paid to caste, all being alike
human before God. Buddha himself is described as a very striking
preacher, charming his hearers by his clear and eloquent diction,
astonishing them by his supernatural power, sometimes instructing the
common folk with ingenious parables, and inciting them to emulation by
telling what others had done. He referred to the sins which had been
committed in former days by an ancient people, and how severely punished
those who had committed them had been, or still were, and he even
recorded his own faults, that others might learn to avoid them. He urged
all his hearers to cultivate truth and reason, which is certainly not a
Christian practice, and not blindly to obey their spiritual guides, as
the modern faithful are taught to do. By making the practice of every
virtue the sole means for attaining eternal salvation, he practically
discouraged vice, but it does not appear that he endeavoured actively
to denounce immorality, sin, or sinners. He did not, like many modern
persons, "compound for sins they are inclined to, by damning those they
have no mind to." It is distinctly declared that it was not necessary
for ordinary followers of Buddha to become what is called "religious,"
or "to enter into religion," as friars, monks, &c. To those who
preferred an ordinary mode of life, instructions were given, that they
should cultivate charity, purity, patience, courage, contemplation, and
knowledge. Indeed, we may assert that the precepts of Jesus, as
recorded in Matthew v., vi, and viii, and in Luke iii. 7 to 14, are not
essentially different from those propounded by Sakya Muni Neither the
one nor the other ordered or even recommended all men to be celibate,
all men to become poor, all soldiers to leave their profession--but
both urged upon every one who wished for salvation, to be kind, pure,
patient, courageous, thoughtful and eager after all knowledge. It would
be well if those calling themselves Christians would endeavour more
fully to understand that cultivating science is the same as advancing in
the knowledge of God.

Some of the remarkable parables found in Buddhist books are very
probably the original ones of Sakya; they are certainly ingeniously
framed to illustrate his doctrine. Nor is there wanting, indeed, one
in which there is an episode resembling the story of the thief upon
the cross. It is of a lovely courtesan who falls deeply in love with
a jeweller, young, and a devoted follower of Buddha, and solicits his
company. To every message she sends him, he returns the answer "it
is not time for you to see me." At length she commits a crime, and is
sentenced to have ears, nose, hands, and feet cut off, and to be carried
to the graveyard to die, leaving the cut off members at her ankles. At
this period the young man visits her, to see the true nature of those
joys which drown men in perdition; then he consoles the poor creature by
teaching her the law; his discourse brings calm into her breast, and she
dies in professing Buddhism with a certainty that she will rise again
amongst the good.

We may mention, in passing, that there were female Buddhists as well as
males, both being on the same footing. The law, as announced by Sakya,
equally concerned and affected the two sexes.

Another and very interesting parable tells of a king who came before
a Buddhist priest and his assembled hearers, to the number of 350, to
confess his crimes, amongst others murder, and his resolution to avoid
all faults in future, and Bhagavat (the teacher's name) at once remits,
in conformity with the law, the faults of the king, which have thus
been expiated before a numerous assembly of the faithful, a remarkable
instance of remorse, repentance, confession, and remission of sin--some
centuries before Jesus was born.

At length a powerful king, Asoka, was converted to the new faith, or
came to the throne already a Buddhist, in the year b.c. 263, and reigned
thirty-seven years, during which time he devoted himself to spreading
the religion of his choice. He sent out a cloud of earnest missionaries
who spread themselves over Hindostan, Ceylon, China, Japan, and Thibet.
Indeed, they seem to have gone wherever there was means of locomotion,
or a knowledge of the existence of a people. As the Greeks were
then certainly trading with India, both by land and sea, it would be
surprising if the Buddhist missionaries had not accompanied the merchant
ships, or the overland convoys to Alexandria. But this subject, it is
convenient for the present to postpone.

There are two points connected with the teaching of Sakya Muni to
which many Christian writers have especially addressed their remarks,
apparently with the view of rendering Buddha more or less contemptible,
or at least of degrading him far below Jesus of Nazareth. It is asserted
that Siddartha did not believe in a god, and that his Nirvana was
nothing more than absolute annihilation. To these I am disposed to
add, that the Buddhists were not taught to pray, nor did their founder
practise the custom.

To my own mind, the assertion that Sakya did not believe in God is
wholly unsupported. Nay, his whole scheme is built upon the belief that
there are powers above which are capable of punishing mankind for their
sins. It is true that these "gods" were not called Elohim, nor Jah,
nor Jahveh, nor Jehovah, nor Adonai, nor Eliieh (I am), nor Baalim,
nor Ashtoreth--yet, for "the son of Suddhodana" (another name for Sakya
Muni, for he has almost as many, if not more than the western god),
there was a supreme being called Brahma, or some other name representing
the same idea as we entertain of the Omnipotent. Still further, in the
life of Buddha, quoted by St. Hilaire (p. 9) we find the following as
part of the thoughts of the young Siddartha--"The three worlds, the
world of the gods, the world of the assours (the benighted ones, or, as
we should call them, 'the devils ), and that of men, are all plagued
by the occurrence of old age and disease." We do not, for we dare not
assert that this opinion is identical with ours; but we are equally
indisposed to say that the opinions current amongst ourselves are
absolutely true.

Men living in future days, and whose minds are educated, will probably
declare, "that the Christians of Europe and elsewhere, for nearly two
thousand years, had no god but the devil They said he was good, but
they painted him as one who rejoiced in pain, lamentation, mourning, and
woe." Buddha preached that man suffered from the effects of his
sins, and that unless he attained salvation, he would be punished
everlastingly. The son of Mary, and all his followers, taught, and
Christians still entertain the belief, that man suffers from the sin of
a progenitor (assumed to be the parent of all mankind), and that each
person will be tortured throughout eternity unless he is able to mollify
his maker, who is also his judge. Both teachers had necessarily an idea
of a power able to make laws for the conduct of human life, to ordain
rewards for good behaviour, and to apportion punishment for offences,
and yet who was sufficiently forgiving to cease from requital, "for a
consideration," the bribe being invariably a bloody one. Jesus called
this power "my Father," Siddartha called him Brahma, the Supreme one.

Jesus and his followers have asserted that the power of the son with
"the Father" is so great, that the latter will conform to the former,
nay, he even asserts his identity with the Supreme in the words "I and
my father are one," (John x. 30). See also Acts iv. 12, and 1 Thess. v.
9, in which it is distinctly affirmed that Jesus is the sole means by
which man can attain salvation, or, in other words, turn away the
wrath of God and change it into love. But Jesus could only rise to the
position of equal or prime favourite by a very sanguinary process, as we
find from Heb. ix. 22, that there could be no remission of sin without
shedding of blood. From the following verses, and from Heb. x. 19, we
learn that it is by the sacrifice of himself that Jesus entered into his
heavenly powers.

Can any one who depicts the gods of savages, of Grecians and others
to whom human beings were immolated in hundreds, call such deities
"devils," and then assert that the Jehovah, whom he extols as above all
gods, is not painted by men in the same colours. Siddartha's god was
not a sanguinary one, nor did Buddha always talk of shedding blood, or
profess to give his disciples his own flesh to eat, and his blood to
them, that they might all drink of it.

The way in which this Supreme One, Brahma, was painted at his time was
accepted by Sakya as he found it. He no more questioned the accepted
truths of Hindooism, than Jesus doubted about the absolute truth of
the Hebrew scriptures. But, in his own mind, after he had contemplated
deeply on the subject, he believed that the discovery which he had made
of the way to Nirvana, universal knowledge, or whatever else Nirvana
was, had raised him above Sakra Brahma, Mahesvara, and all the gods of
the pantheon.

Instead of breaking into expressions respecting the insanity or the
blasphemy of such an idea, let us school ourselves into calmness, and
turn to our own New Testament and read over Philippians, chap, ii. vv.
5-11, "Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who being
in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but
made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,
and was made in the likeness of men, and being found in fashion as a
man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death
of the cross: wherefore God hath highly exalted him, and given him a
name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee
should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth and things under
the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is
Lord to the glory of God the Father."

Still further, I have repeatedly heard Protestant Christian divines
assert that Jesus was really "Lord of the world above," and I cannot see
any greater insanity or blasphemy in the son of Suddodana believing that
he was at least equal with God, than in the son of Mary asserting "I and
my Father are one" (John x. 30), and when reproached for making himself
thus equal with God, he is reported to have remonstrated with his
auditors who accused him of blasphemy because he asserted himself to be
the son of God. The creeds of the Anglican and Roman churches repeatedly
declare the identity of Jesus with Jehovah, e.g., "equal to the Father
as touching his godhead."

The natural rejoinder to this representation is the assertion by the
Christian that he knows that Jesus of Nazareth really was what he
represented himself, and he is sure that Sakya Muni was not; but, on
the other hand, the Buddhist may say just the reverse with equal
pertinacity. This argument, if such a name it really deserves, is so
common amongst all careless religionists, that it deserves a few words
in reply. It is based upon the very natural notion, "what I believe,
must be true," and to an objector, the only answer is the question, "you
don't fancy that I can be wrong, do you?" When two such persons as
a Christian and a Mahometan met in days gone by, these were the only
arguments used by each, and they were first of all enforced by such
revilings as come naturally to the faithful--"hound of a Moslem"--"dog
of a Christian," "you are a serpent"--"you are a viper," and the like;
from words they came to blows, and the strongest arm was supposed to
demonstrate the correctness of the victor's faith. If, instead of
taking physical strength as a test of truth, we assume that a numerical
preponderance on one side or another proves the correctness of the
belief held by the greatest number, we come to the absurd conclusion
that what is right to-day may be wrong to-morrow. Babylonians were once
far more numerous than Jews, and Jews than Christians, to-day the
last exceed vastly both the others. Now, there are more Buddhists
in existence than true followers of Jesus, in the next century the
proportion may be reversed.

Truth does not so fluctuate, and a philosopher who uses his reason will
take up a different stand entirely, and affirm that a man cannot become
God by meditation, fancy or assertion, nor yet by the consent or vote of
millions of his fellow-men, and that the assumption that any individual
must be, and is the begotten son of God, is on a par with the folly of
the potentates who call themselves brothers of the sun and moon. Such
absurdity and blasphemy are very common, nevertheless, and men believe
that Jesus is God, because they have elected him to that elevated
position by a general vote--or European plebiscite.

We now address ourselves to another important statement made by some
writers upon the religion of Sakya Muni, to the effect that he taught
annihilation to be the end most desirable for good men who have learned
and practised the law. This view is held by St. Hilaire, who, in almost
every other respect, has shown himself an historian rather favourable
to Siddartha than otherwise, and who speaks with some regret of the
conclusion which he feels obliged to draw. But he is opposed upon this
point by a very great English or German authority, viz., Max Müller,
who, in a lecture delivered before the general Meeting of the
Association of German Philologists at Kiel, and which is to be found
translated in Trubner's _American and Oriental Literary Record_, Oct.
16, 1869, distinctly declares his belief that the nihilism attributed to
Buddha's teaching forms no part of his doctrine, and that it is wholly
wrong to suppose that Nirvana signified annihilation.

When two such earnest inquirers differ, it is instructive to notice
the reason why. This is to be found in the fact that the etymological
signification of the word does signify "nothingness," or "extinction,"
but not, as Müller contends, annihilation of the individual, but a
complete cessation of all pain and misery. The last quoted author shows
that Siddartha used Nirvana as synonymous with Moksha, Nirvritti, and
other words, all designating the highest state of spiritual liberty and
bliss, but not annihilation. It seems to be perfectly clear that what
was meant by Sakya is, that to the good who have embraced the means of
salvation preached by him, the future world would be a haven of rest,
in which all sorrow, suffering, and sin should be annihilated. But
the teacher does not go beyond this, and descant upon the opposite
conditions, and promise joys ineffable and full of glory. His followers
believe that they will attain to immortality, and that they will be free
from all such horrors as life brings with it. But the pleasures which
they expect are negative.

Before we either pity or despise Siddartha for not giving his followers
any idea of what we call Heaven, it would be well to endeavour to
discover the true teaching of Jesus of Nazareth upon this point, and the
ideas of his followers. We must also say a few words about his ideas of
Hell. He clearly believed that there was a place in which those whose
lives had been wicked would be punished after death by the devil and his
angels--the place was one of outer darkness, where shall be weeping and
wailing, and gnashing of teeth (Matt. viii. 12). In Matt. xiii. 42 this
place of outer darkness is described as "a furnace of fire," and in Mark
ix. 43-44 this fire is described as one that never shall be quenched,
and in which there lives a worm. In Luke xvi. 23-24 there is an
expression of the belief that the body lives after death in its usual
form, and has eyes, a tongue, the power of speech, &c.; yet in Matt. x.
28 the doctrine is inculcated that both body and soul are destroyed
in Hell. In Jude 7 and 13 Hell is again described as a place of
unquenchable fire, and yet one occupied by the blackness of darkness;
whilst in Revelation xix. 20 and xx. 10 we are told that the fire is
a lake of burning brimstone. Of the absolute locality of this horrible
spot not a word is said.

On the other hand, Heaven is described (Matt xiii. 43) as a place where
the righteous shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of God. In
Luke xvi. 22 the pleasure of Heaven is made to consist of a simple
repose in the bosom of Abraham; but though we are there led to believe
that the blessed can see the torments of the damned, it does not appear
that either "the father of the faithful," or the poor beggar Lazarus,
take any pleasure in contemplating them, as some few divines of the
church of England believe that they will do, when they have arrived at
the abode of bliss, and see their enemies in the burning lake. Paul,
when writing to the Corinthians, (1 Ep. xv.) gives his idea of the
resurrection of the just as one in which each man will be a spiritual
edition of his former terrestrial self, but beyond the statement in 1
Thess. iv. 17, that the redeemed will, when in heaven, dwell for
ever with the Lord, he expresses no opinion of the occupation of
the glorified ones. In John's gospel (xiv. 2) Jesus is reported as
saying,--"In my Father's house are many mansions or houses--I go to
prepare a place for you," but there is nothing like any account of what
is to be done in those abodes.

Again, we find, Ps. xvi. 11, in a verse which has been largely adapted
to Christianity, an idea of Heaven given thus--"in thy presence is
fulness of joy, at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore."
What David's pleasures were we may judge from his life, and we may
fairly imagine that the writer of the passage had an idea something like
that of Mahomet--that there were houris in Heaven for the delectation of
the faithful. But in Isaiah lxiv. 4, and I Cor. ii. 9 everything about
Heaven is declared to be vague--a something which the eye has not seen,
the ear heard, or the heart conceived.

In the book called _The Revelation of St. John the Divine_, we have a
far more detailed account of what was believed by some about heaven,
than in any other, and there is no doubt that to it a large number of
Christians appeal, for it is, indeed, almost the only foundation
on which they can build. Yet the Apocalypse was for a long time an
uncanonical book, and its truth and value were, and still are, doubted
by many of the faithful. In the part referred to, heaven is described
as a place incalculably rich in gold and precious stones, in music and
pleasant odours, and its joys are pour-trayed as consisting in constant
contact with the evidences of wealth, and in eternally singing a certain
refrain, an hour of which would be a great trial to human ears. To this
is added the absence of pain, sorrow, and suffering. The New Jerusalem,
described in chapter xxi. is nothing more than a palace similar to that
of Aladdin, which is described in _The Arabian Nights?_ fabulously
adorned with gems, lighted by other means than a burning sun or a cold
moon, cooled or refreshed with a river of clear water, and furnished
with trees bearing different kinds of fruit, but all delicious--thus
involving the certainty that the singing referred to, must have been
suspended whilst the palate was regaled--and having leaves said to be
_for the healing of the nations_. The words thus italicised seem to show
the indefiniteness of the _idea_, we dare not say of the _knowledge_ of
John, for the existence of this new Jerusalem involves the absence of
any disease which required healing; and every person who was not already
assigned to the brimstone lake, was a resident on the margin of the
crystal river. Such discrepancies are common in visionary writings, and
ought to make us distrust them; but instead of that, wild theories are
founded upon these absurdities, and the builders thence attempt to prove
their own superior knowledge. Well, in this new Jerusalem, every man
is to be a ruler, for we are told, that in it the servants of the Lamb
(chap. xxii. 3 sq.) shall serve him, and see his face, that his name
shall be written upon their foreheads, and they shall _reign_ for ever
and ever. The word italicised, very naturally recalls to us an earlier
passage in the same book (chap, i. 6) wherein the writer expresses the
belief that Jesus Christ has made his followers "kings and priests."
It is then clear that John had the notion that in heaven every denizen
would be a king. But king over whom? or over what? if every one in
new Jerusalem is a ruler, what is he a ruler of? It is, to the critic,
moderately certain, that all which the words are intended to convey is,
that every inhabitant of the New Jerusalem or Heaven will be as rich and
happy as a mundane sovereign. This, again, involves the belief that the
author of the Apocalypse had an essentially sensual idea of Heaven,
and that he pourtrayed it as a man would do, who, pining in misery,
suffering from disease, pinched with want, obliged to serve as the slave
of wealth, and to contribute much, out of his little, to the king's
taxes, saw daily, and envied deeply, the high position and great wealth
of a tyrant, with whom, his faith induced him to believe, that he would
change places hereafter.

That the descriptions of Heaven in Revelation can be considered as
reliable, by any thoughtful Christian, I marvel, for they are bound up
with an assurance which the lapse of time has fully demonstrated to be
false. In chap, xxii., v. 12 and 20, the one who is described as the
Lord of the New Jerusalem, the Christian Heaven, asserts that he is
coming quickly, and that his reward is with him. Yet in no sense of the
words is this true, nor has it ever been so.

Tested, then, by every available means, we assert that the Heaven
described by Jesus of Nazareth and his immediate followers is quite as
vague, indistinct, and unreliable as the Buddhist Nirvana; or, if the
affirmative be preferred, we say that the Christian Heaven is quite as
uncertain or indefinite a prize for Jesus' disciples as the Nirvana
of Sakya. Both teachers seem to have been equally confident of the
existence of a Hell, and equally cautious in expressing their ideas
about a Heaven. And we, who have had the advantage of many centuries of
civilization and thought, dare no more frame or promulgate a scheme of
Elysium than the Romans did--we really know nothing whatever about a
future state.

There is this, however, to be said in favour of Siddartha--he did not,
like Mahomet and John, preach a Paradise, in which all the pleasures are
worldly, sensuous, or sensual--John promising music and fruit, Mahomet
feasting and women. All the Indian's teaching pointed to a future world,
in which human passions, frailties, and propensities would find no
place, for the purified being would cast off, with his earthly body,
every carnal appetite. In fact, there is reason to believe that Buddha's
idea was, that after death each essence would become reincorporated with
the Great Spirit, of whom his soul had originally formed a part. It
is doubtful whether any of us could tell him a more perfect way to the
truth about the matter.

Yet, although neither Sakya nor Jesus gave any distinct account of
Heaven, it is certain that some of their followers have done so, and
it is remarkable to see how they have developed their ideas in the same
way. Compare, for example, the account given by John, Apocalypse chaps,
xxi., xxii., with the following account, which I copy from the
_Kusa Iatakya_, a Buddhistic legend of Ceylon, by T. Steele, p. 195.
"_Swarga_, or the heaven occupied by Indra, is described as the most
splendid the human mind can conceive (Percival's _Land of the Vedas_,
p. 160). Its palaces are composed of pure gold, resplendent diamonds,
jasper, sapphire, emerald, and other precious stones, whose brilliance
exceeds that of a thousand suns! Its streets are of crystal, fringed
with gold. The most beautiful and fragrant flowers adorn its forests,
whose trees diffuse the sweetest odours. Refreshing breezes, canopies
of fleecy clouds, thrones of the most dazzling brightness, birds of the
sweetest melodies, and songs of the most delightful harmony, are heard
in the enchanting pleasaunces, which are ever fragrant, ever robed in
summer green." The author whom I am quoting follows these remarks with
lines from Bernard de Morley's hymn, _Jerusalem the Golden_, clearly
showing how greatly he has been struck with the parallelism between the
Buddhist and Christian idea.

So far as I can find, there appears to be a certainty that Sakya Muni
did not teach to his followers the necessity for prayer. That Jesus did
so teach his disciples is the common belief of Christians. Yet, in the
parallel which we are thus drawing, we are perfectly justified in the
assertion that the son of Mary did not teach it from his own spontaneous
judgment, as John the Evangelist had done before him. Jesus certainly
did not originate prayer; indeed, it appears that the subject was forced
upon him, and that unless he had been urged to it, he would neither
have taught to others the necessity for prayer, nor have dictated the
supplication which still passes by his name. The following passage in
Luke xi. 1 seems to be decisive upon this point:--"And it came to pass,
as he was praying in a certain place, one of his disciples said unto
him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." We
see, then, in the first place, that Jesus did not hold, as a fundamental
doctrine, that prayer was part of the duty of man, but that he took it
up as a necessary part of his Jewish education, and adopted it amongst
the subjects of his discourses, following the example of John. When
we try to penetrate into the mind of Jesus, as shown in "the Lord's
Prayer," and ascertain what he regarded as the fittest objects for
orison, we find that they are almost exclusively worldly. There is,
in the first place, an ascription of praise, or of reverence, then an
expression of a desire that the world should become good; that each man
should have a daily meal; that all offences should be condoned, and none
others committed; and that no harm should happen to any who used the
entreaty. Compared with the composition attributed to Solomon, and said
to have been uttered by him at the dedication of the temple, that which
is said to have been given by Jesus is meagre in the extreme. It
does not contain a single supplication for spiritual blessing, or for

In the mind of a philosopher there is a doubt whether the general
heathen notion about prayer, or the apparent Buddhist prayerlessness, is
to be the most commended. Yet, ere we discuss the point, I must remark
that although Buddha does not appear to have taught the duty of prayer
to his disciples, they practise it nevertheless, and have long litanies,
chantings, and mechanical contrivances quite as efficacious, and not
more absurd, than the senseless repetitions which pass current amongst
us for supplications to the Most High. Now, if we require from ourselves
a distinct answer to the question, what is prayer? we can frame no
other than this--"it is the expression of a desire on our part that
the Creator will modify the laws of nature in our favour, in favour of
others, or in His own favour!" The idea that He will do this is plainly
builded upon the supposition that the Creator is like a man, and can be
induced to change His mind--that a creature thinks He is harsh or wrong,
and must be set right. When put thus clearly, the most obtuse can see
that prayer must necessarily be inefficacious, and must always proceed
from a selfishness so intense as to cloak the blasphemy from view.

If, instead of the above definition, we designate prayer as the uttering
of a fervent hope or desire for the benefit of an individual, we can
understand that it is quite as useful as any other ejaculation. Nothing
is more common than for an angry man to curse with all the energy of
exasperation; nothing more common than for a punished hound to yelp, and
for a child, when pained, to cry or roar. Still further I will say, from
personal experience, that the utterance of cries or groans enables an
individual to bear pain with less effect upon his nervous system than
would be felt if they were suppressed. Vociferations are as natural,
and, to some, as necessary as indulging the appetite for hunger. In like
manner, when the mind of man, especially of one only partially educated,
is dominated by intense fear, or by any form of anxiety or present
suffering, there is an instinctive propensity to seek aid from any
source, certain or uncertain, and the enunciation of hopes with an
audible voice is as much necessary to some as roaring is to a lion,
or bleating to a sheep. In this sense prayer is a comfort--it helps to
soothe feelings which, if pent up, would become, probably, too great for
endurance; and, knowing this, I would no more deride prayer than I would
laugh at a baby who cried for his absent mother.

I do not doubt, in the smallest possible degree, that prayer is a
comfort under certain circumstances. For example, my child may be
seriously ill, and I may do everything which my medical knowledge
enables me to do; but day by day drags wearily along, the fever seems to
intensify, and it is clear that there is a struggle between the living
force, and the agent which interferes with it. As hour after hour
passes, and anxiety deepens into fear, I am like a hardy fellow under
the lash: at first the stripes are borne with firmness, but as another
and another falls, not only does-the pain seem keener, but the mental
power which gives courage to bear the cutting agony diminishes, and the
pent-up feelings are vented in a roar of anguish, or a groan of despair.
Just so in the depth of my misery I may utter a prayer--a wish that in
one way or another my torn and lacerated feelings as a father might be
healed, and I may expect to receive solace thereby, no matter whether I
address Jehovah, Brahma, Ishtar, or the Virgin Mary. To hear the sound
of one's own voice, even the task of having to compose an intelligible
sentence, relieves, for a time, the poignancy of grief, and thus helps
one to bear it more patiently. That supplication thus brings relief I
do not for a moment doubt, but that it has any influence in the result I

Entertaining this view, I cannot regard prayer as a duty. It seems to me
to be a deliberate insult to the Almighty to be constantly urging Him to
alter the course of nature--or as we may otherwise put it "to change His
mind." To trust that prayer will obviate the necessity for action seems
to me the height of folly. If a man uttered the words "Give me this day
my daily bread" a hundred times over, and yet never sought to obtain it,
we should regard him as a lunatic. Equally silly should we be if, when
praying "Defend us in all assaults of our enemies," we did not prepare
for battle--or if, after ejaculating "defend us from all perils and
dangers of this night," we were to go to bed without seeing that our
premises were as secure as forethought could make them. However much
the theologian may believe in prayer, he cannot deny that it is less
efficacious than action. Now Buddha preached action whilst Christ
preached inaction, e.g., "take no thought for the morrow," &c. (Matt.
vi. 25-34), consequently we are more disposed to give the palm for
correct judgment to the Indian than to the Jew.

We must, in the next place, notice that many followers of the son of
Suddodana and the son of Mary have both acted, and do still act, upon
the belief, not only that prayer is a duty, but that every supplication
has positive power in the world above--consequently the more extended
the utterances the greater their influence. In point of fact, prayers
are spoken of as if they were equivalent to sacrifice, alms-giving, or
any other supposed virtue. For this there seems to be some foundation
in Acts x. 4, where Cornelius is told that his prayers and his alms have
come up before God; in James v. vv. 15, 16, we are told that "the prayer
of faith shall save the sick;" and that "the effectual, fervent prayer
of a righteous man availeth much." In Revelation v. 8, we are told that
the prayers of the saints are kept in golden vials in heaven, and used
as odours. In chapter viii. 3, we find they are offered with incense
upon the celestial altar, and that the two conjointly come before the
presence of God. This being so, there is a desire to accumulate prayers
on the creditor side of the heavenly books, just as in the days when
sacrifices were trusted in, there was an attempt to increase their
influence by augmenting the number of the creatures slaughtered. This
propensity to multiply orisons was distinctly rebuked by Jesus, who
ordered his followers not to make vain repetitions, for that the custom
was heathenish and to be avoided; a prohibition which had been made by
Siddartha to his followers some centuries before.

To me, I confess, that a life of perpetual prayer without action
indicates a belief that God can be "pestered" into doing something that
He did not intend; and that it is infinitely worse than a life of
action such as Sakya Muni inculcated. I can see no sense in praying for
something that I do not want, or that I cannot have without personal
exertion. It seems to me sheer nonsense for anyone to pray that he may
not grow older, and equally foolish to supplicate that he may live to be
a king. In like manner it would be silly in me to petition for power to
read Assyrian writing, and yet never study its characters. If, then,
by diligent and steady plodding a man can attain his desire, it appears
wholly useless in him to pray for it. We may say the same of one who
wishes to curb his passions--he can do so to a great extent by assiduous
self-control; but he cannot do so any more completely by a lifetime
passed in prayer. From this point of view, therefore, we must again side
with Siddartha rather than with Jesus.

It now remains to us to make some observations upon the developments of
Buddhism after the death of Sakya Muni, but we need not linger over them
long. His doctrine of self-denial, of patient suffering, of celibacy, of
fasting, of preaching and of meditation, gradually produced a system in
which asceticism, solitude, and penance were the prevalent duties.
Men and women desirous of being saintly and of attaining to eternal
happiness, selected some den, cave, or tree in which they could live
a life devoted to contemplation, or else they banded themselves into
companies where they could practise the Buddhistic virtues in each
other's presence, and one could encourage or correct another. Buddhist
monkeries and nunneries are almost as common, and certainly more ancient
than Roman Catholic monasteries, and they had very nearly the same
numerous accessories in worship, which we are familiar with in papal
countries. It is almost impossible to read the accounts given by the
Abbé Hue, and other Eastern travellers, of Buddhism in China, Thibet,
and Japan, without seeing the close resemblance of the Roman Church to
that founded by Siddartha. Indeed, the Abbé was sorely tried by what
he saw; and it is rumoured that he was punished by some ecclesiastical
authority, and his book suppressed. Pure Buddhism, moreover, was, like
pure Christianity, a very painful religion in practice, consequently
both the one and the other have degenerated, and have gradually become
altered much in the same way--both having amalgamated themselves with
other systems, and having gradually eliminated those proceedings which
are most repulsive to human nature. In both there is now, apparently,
the idea that the ascetic life may be lived, as it were, by deputy.
In Buddhism, certain men obtain their living by fasting, meditating,
macerating their flesh, and praying instead of other people, being, of
course, adequately paid for their endurance of privation. In a branch
of the Church founded by Jesus the same notion has obtained, and men who
have wallowed in filth, starved themselves, and spent their days in
a miserable round of penance and prayer, are dignified by the name of
Saints, and are supposed to be able to hand over--for a consideration
in money--the benefit of their sufferings to people who wish to live
comfortably as well as piously.

Without burdening this chapter with a dissertation upon the Romish
doctrine of works of supererogation, I will quote a few extracts from
the Roman Missal, in use in England, to show that works done by another
can be made available for the use of any particular individual. On
January 16, the day of Saint Marcellus, the people are told to pray
"that we may be aided by the merits of blessed Marcellus, Thy martyr and
bishop, in whose sufferings we rejoice." On January 29, the day of
Saint Francis of Sales, we find in the prayer to be used by the people,
"mercifully grant that we may by the aid of his merits, attain unto the
joys of life everlasting." Again, on February 8, the day of Saint John
of Matha, we find in the prescribed prayer, "mercifully grant that by his
merits pleading for us, we may be," &c.--and, lastly, we notice on March
19, on Saint Joseph's day, "vouchsafe, O Lord, that we may be helped by
the merits of Thy most holy mother's spouse," &c. The practice of the
Buddhists is then essentially followed by the Roman Christians.

Pure Buddhism was wholly free from the sexual element so common in other
religions of antiquity, and so was the religion of Jesus. Yet in Thibet
the first became intermingled therewith and Vajrasatta or Dorjesempa the
Thibetan "God above all," is represented in _Schlayintweit's Atlas
of Plates_ as a male conjoined with a female; but so ingenious is
the contrivance that the many might see the drawings without noticing
anything particular, for the trinity and the unity are both hidden from
view; and in Europe the latter has introduced St. Foutin and St. Cosmo
into her calendar, and has founded her worship of a trinity and a virgin
upon the pagan reverence given to the creative organs in both sexes.
Veneration for a triune God and his female consort is no more a portion
of the teaching of the son of Mary than it was the doctrine of the child
of Maya Devi, Buddha's mother.

It will probably be quite as difficult for the reader of the preceding
pages, as it has been for the writer of them, to avoid putting the
question to himself, "Was Jesus of Nazareth a Buddhist disciple?" In
answer to this question I reply that we have no direct proof either on
one side or the other, but there is much circumstantial evidence to show
that he was. We may marshal it thus:--

1. There is very strong reason for belief that the intercourse
between the inhabitants of India and the successors of Alexander was
considerable. For example, we find before the time of the Maccabees,
b.c. 280, or perhaps somewhat later, that Antiochus, the king of Syria,
had 120 elephants--things which had never before been seen in Syria,
Palestine, or Egypt, and which took their local name from the Phoenician
_aleph_, a bull--the Jews supposing that they were a new kind of cattle.
From the accounts given us we infer that these were Indian, and were
trained either by Hindoo mahouts or by Greeks taught in Hindustan.
Animals of this size may have come by land or by water. In either
case we have evidence of traffic. We have already seen that the great
missionary effort of Buddhism took place in the time of Asoka about
B.C. 307, and it is not likely that the West would be neglected when the
Eastern countries received such attention as they did. The Greeks had by
this time found their way by sea to India, and thus it is certain that
the route was known. There is then presumptive evidence that Buddhism
was taught amongst the people frequenting the kingdom of Antiochus the
Second, B.C. 261. At this period and subsequently, this king and his
subjects came much into contact with the Jews, so that it is equally
easy to believe that the Hebrews were found out by the Hindoo
missionaries as that the Alexandrian Greeks were.

2. I have been unable to find in the Jewish law, in Grecian story, in
the accounts of old Babylonians, Carthaginians, Romans, Egyptians, or
in any other history except that of India, testimony which shows that
asceticism was an essential part of religion. It is true that we do find
fasting to be occasionally mentioned in the Old Testament as a sign of
grief or of abasement,* but never as a means of gaining salvation in a
future life--whose very existence was unknown to Moses and the Jews. The
observation of a period of hunger formed no part of the Mosaic law. On
the contrary, ancient European religions, and those of Egypt and Western
Asia were associated with feasting and jollification (see Deut. xiv.
26.) The Jews were encouraged to indulge in a plurality of wives; but
they were nowhere directed or recommended to live on alms. Again,
we find nowhere any orders to the priests or Levites to go about the
country expounding or teaching the law. Consequently, when we notice
the rise of asceticism, preaching, and celibacy, between the time of
Antiochus and that of Jesus, we are justified in the belief that they
were introduced from without, and by those of the only religion which
inculcated them as articles of faith and practice.

     * In Lev. xvi. 30; xxiii. 27, 28; and Numb. xxix. 7, there
     are directions given to the Jews, that on a certain day they
     are "to afflict their souls," and a threat is added, that
     "whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that
     self same day, he shall be cut off from amongst his people."
     There is no specific direction as to the method of
     afflicting the soul; but it is to be associated with
     absolute laziness, for whatever soul doeth any work on that
     day shall be destroyed (Lev. xxiii. 28-31). The law is
     evidently a very modern one, as we do not find it referred
     to in the Ancient Jewish records, and the idea of atonement
     was introduced by the Talmudic Pharisees.

3. The Hebrews always showed during the Old Testament times a great
aptitude to adopt the faith of outsiders--and as the Jewish people were
in great abasement and misery at the period when it is probable that the
Buddhist missionaries came into Syria, they would be prepared for the
doctrine that they were suffering for bygone sins. The idea that men
in the present were sometimes punished for sins done in the past was a
Hebrew as well as a Hindoo idea, else Saul's sons would not have
been hanged for their father's misdeeds, or the Amalekites have been
slaughtered by Samuel, because their forefathers had some centuries
before fought with Israel and been conquered by Moses and Joshua.

4. That after the Persian reign it is certain, that three Jewish sects
existed,--the Pharisees, the Essenes, and the Sadducees--the last alone
being purely Mosaic, and the two first being very like the Buddhists.

To strengthen the links of evidence, we may now say a few words about
the remarkable sect of the Essenes, premising our belief that it was
founded by missionaries of the faith of Sakya Muni, whose doctrines and
practice became, subsequently, modified by Mosaism, just as Christianity
was considerably remoulded by Talmudism, or, to use an example nearer
our own times, as the Christianity preached by European missionaries to
the New Zealanders has been altered by the natives, in accordance with
their ancient ideas. To them the Old Testament is the Bible, the New
Testament is of no value.

The Essenes are described by the Rev. Dr Ginsburg, whose authority I
follow (_The Essenes_. Longmans, London, 1864), as a Jewish sect of
singular piety. They did not sacrifice animals, but endeavoured to make
their own minds holy--fit for an acceptable offering to Jehovah. They
provided themselves with just enough for the necessities of life, and
held such goods as they possessed, e.g., clothes and cloaks, in common.
They only allowed themselves to converse on such parts of philosophy
as concern God and man. They abhorred slavery, but each served his
neighbour. They respected the Sabbath. Their fundamental laws were, to
love God, to love virtue, and to love mankind. They affected to despise
money, fame, pleasures, professed the most strict chastity, or, rather,
continence, and they practised endurance as a duty. They also cultivated
simplicity, cheerfulness, modesty, and order. They lived together in
the same houses and villages, and sustained the poor, the sick, and the
aged. When they earned wages the money was paid to a common stock. They
did not marry, or have children; but if any of their body chose to wed,
there was nothing in the regulations to prevent their doing so, only
they then had to enter another class of the brotherhood. When possible,
they worked all day. They were highly respected by those who knew them,
and were frequently receiving additions to their number. They seem to
have resembled, in their habits and customs, a fraternity of monks of
a working, rather than a mendicant, order. Pleasure they regarded as
an evil, having a tendency to enchain man to earthly enjoyments, a
peculiarly Buddhist tenet. Still further, they considered the use of
ointment as defiling, which was certainly not a Hebraic doctrine; but
they dressed decently. They prayed devoutly before sunrise; but until
the orb had risen they never spoke of worldly matters. They gave thanks,
and prayed before and after eating; and ere they entered the refectory
bathed in pure water. The food provided was just sufficient to keep
them alive. When a person wished to enter the community, he underwent
a period of trial, and, if approved, he proceeded to take an oath--"to
fear God; to be just towards all men; never to wrong anyone; to detest
the wicked, and love the righteous; to keep faith with all men; not to
be proud; not to try and outshine his neighbours in any matter; to love
truth, and to try and reclaim all liars; never to steal or to cajole;
never to conceal anything from the brotherhood, and to be reticent with
outsiders." The Essenes reverenced Moses, and so great was their respect
for the Sabbath, that they would not ease nature on that day. They bore
all tortures with perfect equanimity, and fully believed in a future
state of existence, in which the soul, liberated from the body,
rejoices, and mounts upwards to a paradise, where there are no storms,
no cold, and no intense heat, and where all are constantly refreshed by
gentle ocean breezes. Josephus compares this sect with the Pythagoreans;
and I think this fact is worth noticing, for there was, in old times,
a strong opinion that the founder of that sect brought his peculiar
opinions from Hindostan. Pliny, in writing of the Essenes, remarks that
their usages differ from those of all other nations--which we may
take as a demonstration that they did not copy their constitution from
Greeks, Romans, or Jews. Respecting the origin of this sect nothing
certain is known, beyond that they were in existence at the time of the
Maccabees. Critics decline to see in them any direct relations to the
Pythagoreans, and some imagine that the order sprung naturally out of a
spiritual reading of the Mosaic law, modified, probably, by Persian or
Chaldee notions.

It seems to me, however, that the tenets and practice of the Essenes
indicate rather a Buddhist than a Mosaic origin, for celibacy is
everywhere in the Old Testament spoken of as a misfortune, and abundance
of wives as a proof of God's favour; and I imagine that some devout
Indian missionary persuaded many pious Jews to listen to his doctrine,
but that he was unable to convert them sufficiently to induce them
to give up the law of Moses for that of Siddartha. I conceive still
further, that John the Evangelist, and, subsequently, Jesus of Nazareth,
were perfectly cognizant of the doctrines of the Essenes, if they were
not members of the sect, and that there is nothing incredible in
the idea that both these preachers were instructed by some Buddhist
missionary, although neither was ever induced to give up his belief
in the absolute truth of those Jewish writings, which both had been
accustomed to regard as absolutely true and sacred.

We readily allow that our theory may be called a wild one, but we assert
that, in reality, it is far otherwise. Of course a critic may say that
John, and his follower, Jesus, were just as likely to have struck out a
new theory of salvation as Sakya Muni was; or, if exceedingly orthodox,
he may assume that the preaching of Jesus was the pure result of
inspiration, not such as was given to the prophets by Jehovah, but
emanating from himself as a source of absolute truth. But we demur to
both assertions. The profound reverence that Mary's son showed, in the
early part of his career, for the law and for the prophets, would have
prevented his doing anything to upset the former in so marked a manner
as he did, in respect to the Sabbath day and other matters (see Matthew
v. 31, 32, 33, 34, 38, 39, 43, 44), unless there had been some strong
influence, from without, brought to bear upon his mind, and to cast it
in a different mould to that of Pharisee or Sadducee. Nor can we
believe Jesus to have been inspired, unless we extend the same belief to
Buddha's teaching, and believe that he also was a fountain of light and
righteousness, which we certainly are not disposed to do.

Our hypothesis respecting a connection between the teaching of the
Indian and the Hebrew, appears to be strengthened when we contemplate
the distinction between the doctrines of the Jewish and the Hindoo
sage. We have seen how they agree as regards the morality which they
inculcate, the celibacy and poverty that they enjoin, the firm belief
in preexistent, or original, sin, and in a future state of rewards or
punishments. They differ in the veneration paid to antecedent authority.
Sakya Muni believed in his own inspiration, and rejected the writings
which were reverenced by his parents and Mends. Jesus seems to have
believed that he was himself supplemental to Moses and the prophets.
He did not want to destroy or to supersede them absolutely, as we learn
from Matthew v. 17, and xxiii. 23. He had, apparently, an unbounded
confidence in their truth, and, with an assurance in their sanctity, he
spoke of their writings as the very words of God, and we shall see
that the main, if not the only, points in which Jesus diverges from
the Hindoo prophet were the products of the Hebrew's full belief in the
sacred truth of the Jewish Scriptures.

The son of Mary taught, as the most important part of his doctrine, that
the world would shortly come to an end, and that he was sent to
show mankind, or, rather, the Jews, how to escape from the terrible
catastrophe. I do not think it possible for anyone to read the words
attributed to Jesus, and not recognize that this was the turning point
upon which everything in his preaching hinged. Sakya Muni spoke of the
future misery of all those who did not adopt his method of salvation;
Jesus treated of the impending destruction of the whole world, of an
immediate judgment of mankind, and of the certain punishment of the
majority. That we are not uttering vague assertions we may show by
reference to Matt. xxiv. 3, wherein we find certain disciples asking,
"What shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"
After a long preamble, telling of troubles and misery, we have the reply
of Jesus in vv. 29 et seq.:--"Immediately after the tribulation of those
days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light,
and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens
shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in
heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall
see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great
glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and
they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end
of heaven to another.... Verily I say unto you, This generation shall
not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." This is substantially,
and almost literally, repeated in Mark xiii. 26-30, and in Luke xxi. 32.*

     * I have heard the words of this preceding quotation handled
     by a great variety of divines, asserting themselves to be
     orthodox, and who hold the position of Christian ministers.
     All, without exception, profess to regard the expressions
     about the sun being darkened and the stars falling, as
     figurative or metaphorical, and each, according to his
     prevalent ideas, or to the pet theory of the day, explain
     the imagery as having a reference to some emperor, king,
     queen, general of armies, and I know not what besides. But,
     to anyone who examines the phraseology closely, it will be
     seen that the words are to be taken in their most literal
     sense. Jesus had, as we have shown, a firm belief in the
     immediate destruction of the world, and upon that theme he
     descants and dilates. Taking the Mosaic account of creation
     as strictly true to the letter, Jesus regarded the sun,
     moon, and stars as apanages of our earth, and very naturally
     drew the inference, that when the world was burned up, there
     would be no necessity for the celestial luminaries--the sun
     would cease to shine, the moon would be dark, and the stars
     fall from the sky under the influence of the same power that
     produced the mundane destruction. These defunct bodies would
     be replaced by a vast apparition, whose glory would exceed
     that of the ancient rulers of the day and night, and he who
     now stood on earth as a man of sorrows and acquainted with
     grief would be seen and recognized as the arbiter of the
     destinies of every man. The passages referred to in the text
     bear no other meaning than the one here assigned to them;
     nor would anyone, however wild "a divine" he might be, ever
     see, or endeavour to discover, in the words referred to, a
     hidden meaning, unless the solemn assertion of Jesus of his
     immediate advent in the clouds of heaven had been such a
     signal failure as time has proved it to be. We have always
     protested against those theologians who pronounce passages
     in the Bible to be metaphorical or literal as it suits the
     event, and we do so now. Why such men should insist upon it
     that everything in the Koran and Buddhistic books must be
     taken au pied de la lettre and that everything in the Bible
     may be allegorised, is a matter beyond my comprehension.
     They surely forget the dictum--"with what measure ye mete it
     shall be measured to you again" (Matt, vii. 2).

In Matthew x. we find Jesus sending out his disciples as missionaries,
saying to them (v. 7), "as ye go, preach, saying, the kingdom of heaven
is at hand," a doctrine previously proclaimed by John (Matt iii. 2), and
based upon some words of Isaiah and the more precise presages in Daniel
See also Matt iv. 14-17; Luke ix. 2, and x. 9. We find a yet more
important reference in Matt. xi. 14, in which Jesus is reported to have
said, when speaking of John, "If ye will receive it, this is Elias,
which was for to come." The observation here made plainly refers to
an utterance of the Jewish Malachi, who, in his last two chapters,
foreshadows the advent of a messenger, who should immediately precede
the coming of the Lord to judge the world. There is yet another passage,
of almost equal force, in Matt. xvi. 27, 28--"For the Son of man shall
come in the glory of the Father with his angels, and then shall he
reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, there be
some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the Son
of man coming in his kingdom." In Matt. xix. 28 we read, "Jesus said
unto them, Verily I say unto you, that ye which have followed me, in the
regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory,
ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of
Israel," &c. Again, we see in Matt, xxv., after a parable intended
to show the possibility of a sudden occurrence, the words, "Watch,
therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of
man cometh." That this belief was due to the Jewish writings we judge
from the frequent references made to them; and we may especially notice
one which is attributed to Jesus after his resurrection, viz., "all
things must be fulfilled which were written in the law of Moses, and
in the prophets, and in the Psalms, concerning me." So firmly was the
belief of an immediate judgment impressed upon the minds of Christians,
that we find Paul affirming respecting it (1 Cor. xv.), "We shall not
all sleep, but we shall all be changed... at the last trump" (vv. 31,
52). This is more decidedly enunciated in 1 Thess. iv. 15-17--"For this
we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive, and
remain unto the coming of the Lord, shall not prevent them that are
asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout,
with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God, and the dead
in Christ shall rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be
caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air,
and so shall we ever be with the Lord." Compare with this 2 Peter iii.
1-4, in which there is a repetition of the same leading idea, and with
Acts i. 11, and ii. 16-36.

From these passages, it is unquestionable that Jesus preached that a
destruction of the whole creation was imminent, and we, who have the
light of history to guide us, can readily understand the powerful
influence of the doctrine. We have read of panics, even in London, where
some enthusiast has propounded the statement, that the world was to
be destroyed upon a certain day, and can well believe, how a similar
assertion would frighten ignorant, and, probably, learned Hebrew men.
But, as time advanced, and generation after generation passed away, the
original doctrine required to be modified. Yet it has never been quite
given up, and to this day, a part of the system of Christianity is, to
put faith in a second coming of Jesus, to judge the world. The
"second coming" here referred to, frequently passes by the name of the
Millennium, and earnest pietists believe that the son of Mary will come
in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory, to punish all who
do not believe in him; and to elevate the existing, and all other past
saints, to be kings and priests in a new Jerusalem, wherein all will
enjoy perfect happiness for a thousand years.

There is another point in connection between Buddha and Jesus, to which
the biblical student should not fail to pay attention. The followers
of the former had a perfect belief that each of them had lived in a
previous state of existence. Upon this point not a doubt disturbed
them. The disciples of the latter, however, had no such ideas, nor when
propounded to them, did they apparently understand it. As far as we can
judge from the first three Gospels, Jesus did not assert that he had
ever existed prior to the time of his birth at Bethlehem. But in the
fourth Gospel, written as almost every scholar believes, about A.D.
150, a claim is repeatedly made by Jesus, of having lived for an untold
period, in the spirit world in company with the Father.

We will not enter here upon the grossness of thought, which is mingled
with the better ideas of the writer of John's Gospel--a notion that
involves the necessity for a celestial spouse of God; for if the son
existed--"begotten by the father before all worlds," it could only be by
some union--for the word "son" implies the necessity of a father and a
mother--more especially when it is declared, that he was "begotten."
Our chief business, however, is not with this point, but with the
preëxistence of Jesus.

The assertions by which the claim to a preëxistence is recognized, may
be found in the well known words in the beginning of John, also in the
10th verse--"The world was made by him." In these parts, the evangelist
declares that Jesus was coeval with his father, which no son can be. In
chap. iii. 13, we find, "no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he
that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven,"--a
strange text indeed, which totally ignores the ascension of Enoch and
Elijah--or which demonstrates that they lived in heaven before they were
born on earth, and which still further makes Jesus say, that he was in
heaven at the time when he was talking to Nicodemus! In chap, vi. 62,
there is a similar idea, "and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up
where he was before." In chap. viii. 14 to 23, 38, and 56, a similar
idea is propounded; and in v. 58, Jesus is made to assert positively,
"before Abraham was, I am." In chap, xvi. 28, again, we read, "I came
forth from the Father," and in chap. xvii. 5, we see, "and now, O
Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had
with thee before the world was."

We do not believe that the son of Mary made these assertions himself,
nor did the son of Maya. But Sakya Muni had not long been dead, before
his disciples promulgated the doctrine that he was, in reality, a part
of the Supreme, who had existed for everlasting, and had been manifested
in the flesh to become a teacher; what his followers did for Buddha, it
was natural that others should do for Christ. It may be that the latter
were stimulated to do so by noticing the former, but it is quite as
probable that the idea of glorification came spontaneously to both sets
of men. Whichever view of the case we may take, one thing is certain,
viz., that both Buddhists and Christians, have, from the death of their
respective masters, done everything in their power, century by century,
to augment the claims of each, until indeed, individuals are found, who
regard Sakya Muni as the Supreme, and Jesus the All in All. The learned
historian may trace in the East, the rise of Buddha's influence in some
spots, and its decadence in others; and, when he looks nearer home,
he may see the gradual fall of Jesus, and the rise of Mary amongst the
Papists, whilst amongst the Protestants, the son has been raised even
above the Father. Not many months have passed, since a clever preacher
and thoughtful man, told me that he was determined to see nothing in the
world but Christ--for whatever was done, he felt a certain confidence
that it was done by him, and for his glory.

We see then, that both Buddhism and Christianity have been founded
on the assertion that mankind suffers pain, misery, and death, in
consequence of antecedent criminality before "The Great Master"--that
men will be punished after death for certain sins committed in this
life; and that they can attain to salvation by adopting the precepts
and practice laid down by Buddha and by Christ. Those who preach these
doctrines are sure of the facts that misery exists, and that man desires
to escape it. According, then, to the painting of the one, and the
earnest promise of the other, all teachers of the two sects have a
strong hold upon the imagination of their followers. I assert, without
fear of contradiction from any thoughtful man, that the main
inducements held out by our divines to persuade their hearers to embrace
Christianity, are an awful painting of the horrors of hell, and
an assurance not only of escaping it, but of gaining a place quite
different to the Devil's kingdom, provided only that the plan adopted
by the theologian is followed to the letter. Neither Buddhists nor
Christians seem ever to have studied the laws of nature, or the works of
the Supreme, with any largeness of mind or understanding. Had they done
so, they would alter their views respecting sin entirely, and they would
attribute the miseries of life to their proper cause.

It will be interesting to the reader, if we now endeavour to remove from
the two religious systems, of which we treat, all those parts, which are
to my mind, clearly imaginary; and examine what is left behind. There
is nothing beyond a skeleton of morality, pure and simple. But even the
morality is not based upon common sense. It is tainted by what every
thinker must regard as absurdities. For example, when Siddartha
instructed his disciples to become ascetics, and live upon alms, he did
recognize the fact, that, if all men adopted his law, they must starve;
for not one would have anything to give. In like manner, when Jesus
of Nazareth sent off his disciples without any provision for their
subsistence; and when he preached, "take no thought for the morrow,"
he did not appear to take in the idea, that if all the world became
converted to his doctrine, all would suffer, and die of hunger. It is,
therefore, quite as necessary for a modern philosopher, to correct some
of the better parts of the doctrines of the sons of Maya Devi, and
Mary, as it is to emendate their worst features. If such an one were
to pretend--or to believe, that he was "inspired" to rectify the
dispensation of Siddartha and Jesus, as the latter thought himself
commissioned to improve upon, or to fulfil the law of Moses--it is
probable that he would be regarded as a prophet; but if he should only
try to coax men to think, rather than drive them to believe, he would be
unheeded by the majority. Nor after all, does it much signify. Sheep are
tolerably comfortable whoever the shepherd may be, and if there should
be a fight between rivals for the ownership of a flock, the quadrupeds
do not care, so long as they are not trained to fight, to fast, or to
live on an animal diet.

When any one speaks of the morality, pure and simple, inculcated by
Sakya Muni and Jesus, it is a fair question to ask whether asceticism
is included therein. In other words, is there anything of the nature of
absolute goodness in the attempt to make oneself miserable? Or, to vary
the question still further--granting, for the sake of argument, that it
is intrinsically right in the sight of God to abstain from such of our
propensities as induce us to marry, to eat, drink, and sleep heartily,
to fight a duel with a rival, to steal, to lie, to covet, and the
like,--granting, too, that every such abstinence is entered as "an
asset" on the creditor side of the books of Heaven--is it an equally
available item to abstain from brotherly love and comfort generally?
The logician sees clearly that there is no distinction in kind between
controlling one set of animal passions and another, and is forced to
allow that if it be a commendable thing to avoid indulging in one carnal
appetite, it is still more commendable to endeavour to counteract them
all Consequently, by granting the premisses, we find ourselves landed in
a difficulty. If universal asceticism were to prevail, it is clear that
man would be opposing himself to the manifest designs of the Creator,
as shown in the world at large; and we cannot conceive, that direct
disobedience to instincts, implanted in us by our Maker, can be anything
but an item on the debtor side in the books, which Jewish writers
have said that He keeps. Thus we are driven to investigate the very
assertions which in the commencement of our inquiry we took for granted,
and to ask ourselves, is there really any intrinsic value in morality
in the sight of God? Can a most virtuous life command for the individual
who has practised it an eternity of bliss? Jesus answers this tolerably
distinctly in the words reported in Luke xvii. 10, "When ye shall have
done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable
servants: we have done that which it was our duty to do." But we doubt
whether this dictum enunciates sufficiently clearly the abstract value
of morality. To ascertain this we must endeavour to read the book of
nature on other pages than those which treat of man.

There can be no doubt in the mind of a thoughtful observer that man and
the lower animals have much in common--that; all have been framed with a
purpose, and are ruled by natural laws. Some creatures excel in cunning,
some in reason, some in activity, some in sloth--all have certain
proclivities. In some, instinct leads them to eat grass, boughs,
leaves, and fruits; in others, it teaches them to seek insects or
other creatures for their food. All have, more or less, periodically a
propensity to propagate;--which is attended in some by a pairing off
of male and female, who consort for the purpose of having offspring and
assisting each other in rearing them. In others, either where there
is naturally an equality of the sexes or a preponderance of males, the
latter instinctively fight with each other for a single mate, or for a
number of females. Again, in the case of animals actuated by hunger, or
by other motives, there are frequent battles, and the conquered is not
only killed, but eaten. Or where two or more sets of animals are living,
the one on land, the other in the air, we may find that one will rob the
other. Nothing, for example, is much more common than for rats and crows
to steal eggs, or for tigers to commit murder. Nature, then, being such
as we find it, we cannot assert--reasonably--that a young stag when he
covets a neighbour's wife and fights her present consort, for property
in her, commits a crime against the Almighty,--nor can we say that a fox
which steals a goose will be sent to hell. On the other hand, we should
never think of commending a hungry lion for abstaining from killing a
harmless lamb, nor of declaring that he has done a good action in the
sight of heaven. In like manner, a writer in proverbs tells us that
"men do not despise a thief if he steal to satisfy his soul when he is
hungry,"--and the general consent of mankind refuses to see the crime of
murder in the slaughter of one, out of a miserable boat's crew, who
is killed and eaten that the survivors may escape death from hunger.
Society, too, is somewhat lenient when two men fight for the love
of such a woman as Helen. But we readily recognise the fact that a
community, or even a family, would be weakened and disorganized if theft
was encouraged, and every pretty female was the cause of close fighting
between man and man. Hence we see that, in reality, that which is called
"the moral law," is a code which is intended to influence social life in
this world, and not the position of human beings in the next.

However much we might desire to think the contrary, we are driven to the
belief that the moral precepts inculcated on the Jews, the Buddhists,
and the Christians, had a human, and, we may add, a political origin.
Taking the Bible even as being what many believe it to be--the inspired
word of God--we must nevertheless allow that such a code as that book
contains in Exodus and elsewhere, existed in Egypt long before the
departure of the Jews from that country. Had not murder been prohibited
on the Nile bank, Moses would not have run away to escape the penalty
for homicide. Because the Mizraim punished killing, were they taught of

The natural answer to this query when it is addressed to a bibliolater
is that the Egyptians were taught by God to punish murder with death
through the intervention of their forefather, Ham, who heard the command
given by God to Noah, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his
blood be shed," Gen. ix. 6. But if the Egyptians thus knew the law, so
the descendants of Shem must have learned it also; and if so, what need
was there to repeat it amongst the thunders of Sinai. It is plain from
the romantic legend of Joseph and Potiphar's wife: first, that the
Hebrew slave feared to commit adultery, as it was a great wickedness
and a sin against God, Gen. xxxix. 9; and, secondly, that the Egyptian
considered it a crime in anyone to violate the wife of another. But
neither Joseph nor Potiphar could by any possibility have heard of the
laws enunciated on Sinai. So, if we could inquire farther, we should
most assuredly learn that the Mizraim venerated their parents, punished
theft, and took means to prevent and to punish perjury. If, then,
the Egyptians had, long before they ever heard of a Jew, the same
commandments amongst them which were subsequently enunciated in the
wilderness, we can only come to the conclusion that the Hebrew writer
who told the story of Sinai, gave the god whom he described, a great
deal of unnecessary work. Can we for a moment suppose that the Jews when
in Egypt had their wives in common?--and if each man had his mate, and
each woman her husband, it is almost self-evident that adultery would
not be tolerated amongst them. As there were therefore distinct moral
laws long before the Exodus, the decalogue was entirely superfluous.

The morality inculcated by teachers is nothing more than instructions
for mankind how to attain the greatest harmony amongst their fellows.
It is very natural for a thoughtless man to assert that one who wilfully
disturbs the general comfort of the human family during his life-time,
shall be tormented eternally after his death; and, on the other hand,
to proclaim that he who does everything in his power to increase the
happiness of his fellow-men shall be rewarded in a heaven above, with
everlasting music, or other delights; yet we may fairly doubt the
averments, for both are founded entirely upon human ideas of right and
wrong, justice and injustice. The prevalent idea is, that everything
which to some man seems to be wrong on earth, will be righted in another
sphere--Even Jesus appears to have adopted this view, for he talks (Luke
xvi) of a Dives and Lazarus--the one, a rich man who fared sumptuously
every day, and the other a beggar, full of sores, who longed for the
crumbs from wealth's table. After the deaths of these two people, we
are told that the rich man went to Hell, and the poor one to Heaven,
not--apparently--because one was bad and the other good; but simply
because misery in the present is sure to be changed into luxury for the
future, and _vice versa_. We see this doctrine distinctly enunciated by
the imaginary Abraham, in whose bosom Lazarus lay, for he remarks (Luke
xvi. 25), "Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good
things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and
thou art tormented." We nowhere find that his position was a reward to
the beggar for virtue or morality. There is also a current doctrine that
he whom we call a vile man--one who indulges his brutal desires, shall
in another world become more brutalized--meeting with, and being beaten
by, powers whose mischievous propensities are superior to his own;
whilst, on the other hand, he whom we call a saint, one who endeavours
to subdue the affections of the flesh in this world, shall be able to
indulge in any desire that he may have, in the next, unlimitedly. In
short, each individual makes a Heaven for himself, and a Hell for his
neighbours. I have heard, in days gone by, a Southern States lady say
she would not go to heaven, willingly, if she knew that she should meet
negroes there on terms of equality.

In rejoinder to these considerations, the question is put, "Could the
world be habitable by men, without the existence amongst them of a
belief in a future state, in which rewards and punishments shall be
meted out for supposed misdeeds committed in the present?" It is well
for us to look the matter in the face boldly, and ask ourselves whether
fierce tigers, angry bulls, combative stags, kindred devouring rats,
offspring eating alligators, infanticidal birds and pigs have succeeded
in extirpating their race? There are herds, without number, of
graminivorous animals in Africa, and thousands of carnivorous creatures
who could not exist without murdering some of the former; yet the
slaughter committed by scores of lions does not annihilate antelopes. In
like manner there are many folks who have lived in sundry islands of
the Pacific without an idea, so far as we can learn, of an eternity,
who sometimes spend their leisure time in fighting with and eating each
other, and occasionally unite to kill a shark: each individual lives and
dies like any other animal, but the race remains. Even the systematic
"hellishness" of persecution indulged in by the followers of Jesus in
the middle ages did not extirpate the Jews; and if organized murders,
such as were, in days gone by, sanctioned by individuals wielding the
sceptre of powerful governments, could not cut off from existence a
comparatively feeble race, surely we may conclude that a nation can
continue populous even if any individual, in a fit of passion, should
rise against his fellow and smite him to the dust. But we need not go to
New Zealand, China, and Japan to prove that men can live in a community
without an idea of eternity, for we have only to refer to the Jews, the
so-called people of God. To them no knowledge of eternal life was given,
consequently we infer that Jehovah knew that they would get along in the
world very well without it. What Elohim thought was unnecessary, it is
not for man to propound as important.

When the modern Christian philosopher--and there really are a few who
deserve the term--finds that the morality of Jesus did not materially
differ from that of Sakya Muni, he endeavours to show that the doctrine
of "faith in the son of God" is of more value than simple propriety,
and that even the most virtuous life will not enable a man to attain to
paradise unless he holds the Catholic faith. When the "Catholic faith,"
as it is termed, is placed in such a position, we are bound to examine
its pretensions, and inquire in what way doctrines or dogmas are better
than morality, and whether they are in any way superior to what the
orthodox call "irreligion." To my mind the best method of solving
the question is an appeal to history. If, as it is contended by the
orthodox, the teaching of Christianity is far above that of any other
religion, then it must follow that all those who believe in it, or even
profess it, must be paragons amongst men as citizens and rulers. To
what extent many theologians believe in this axiom may be judged by the
frequency with which we hear, from the pulpit, an old anecdote to
the effect, that the expression, "see how these Christians love one
another," was, in olden time, nearly equal to the most powerful sermon
in favour of the religion of Jesus. Without pointing a sneer, by
requesting my readers to substitute the word Buddhists for Christians,
let me lay the very heavy charge against the leaders of the faith, that
the words in question are the heaviest condemnation possible against the
supposed value of the doctrines of the son of Mary, as formerly and at
present expounded. "See how these Christians love!" Aye, see how they
love--read their own histories of the past, and their newspapers in
the present; attend their meetings; listen to their speeches; and
even follow them into private life. In every position "see how these
Christians love one another" is the damning sentence which tells of the
real value of the doctrine attributed to the son of Mary. Whilst I
write (Jan. 7, 1870), a council, called OEcumenical, consisting of Roman
Catholic Christian bishops, summoned to the capital of ancient Italy
from all parts of the world, is sitting, and one of the subjects of its
deliberation is, whether a certain individual, elected by men to assume
the direction of a community of men holding a particular faith in
common, shall be regarded, by those who join such branch of the church,
as absolutely infallible in every statement of opinion which he makes as
a high priest. Men positively have met to clothe, and now have invested,
a man with an attribute of God, and millions of Christians will, by
those men, be compelled to consider themselves bound by the decision!
"See how these Christians love!" they are persecuted by the world at
first, then they persecute their oppressors, and massacre each other;
educated by Jesus, they gradually encourage ignorance until they reach
a superstition as crass as the darkness of a dense fog in a moonless
night. They oppose the advancement of knowledge and science, then, by
degrees, endeavour to exalt each other, until, by common consent, they
deify the chieftain of the order. There is not a known crime of which
the leaders of the Christian church, as it is called, have not been
guilty, both as men and ecclesiastical rulers. "See how these Christians
love!" Yet these very men endeavour to deride, and affect to despise,
those whom they call the godless. The latter, taking their stand upon
morality and common sense, aver that all affairs between man and his
maker ought to be referred to the arbitrement of Heaven. The Christian
hierarchs, on the contrary, declare that they are the earthly agents of
heaven, and that they, and the secular arm--a very mundane court--can
act just as well, perhaps better, than the Supreme Judge. We will
not say whether it was a pleasant pastime for the Spanish, and other
Inquisitors, to torture individuals who were thought to be inimical to
the true faith, inasmuch as we do not know their inmost mind; but
we asseverate that all Europe, except those who had the power of
persecution, and used it, rejoiced greatly when the enthusiastic armies,
of what was designated atheistic France, annihilated the so-called Holy

I speak with sober earnestness when I say, that after forty years'
experience amongst those who profess Christianity, and those who
proclaim, more or less quietly, their disagreement with it, I have
noticed more sterling virtue and morality amongst the last than the
first. Though I thus express myself, I must also acknowledge my belief
in the dictum, "that many men are better than their creeds would
make them," and, consequently, that all men are not to be taken as
characteristic of their system of belief. I know, personally, many
pious, sterling, good Christian people, whom I honour, admire, and,
perhaps, would be glad to emulate or to equal; but they deserve the
eulogy thus passed on them in consequence of their good sense having
ignored the doctrine of faith to a great degree, and having cultivated
the practice of good works. They have picked out the best bits of the
Bible, and rejected the worst. In my judgment the most praiseworthy
Christians whom I know are modified Buddhists, though, probably, not one
of them ever heard of Siddartha. I would gladly trace their character,
but I forbear, as I think they would be horrified at the thought of
my comparing them with those whom they have been taught to regard as
followers of a false prophet, or something worse. Let it suffice to say
that I honour consistent reasonable Christians everywhere, and that
whatever remarks I make which seem to be opposed to this, are directed
against those whose doctrines, morality, and conduct, ostensibly built
upon the Bible, are irrational and bad.

Since the preceding remarks were written, there have appeared three very
remarkable works upon Buddhism in addition to those which I have already
noticed--and they have the advantage for general readers, of being
clothed in an English dress. The first which I will notice, is _Travels
of Fah-Hian and Sung-Yun: Buddhist Pilgrims from China to India_ (408
A.D., and 518 a.d.; London, Trübner, 1869, small 8vo. pp. 208.) This
work is remarkable as illustrating the fact, that there has been the
idea, even in China, of sending men, or of devout persons spontaneously
going, to distant places, to endeavour to seek for more perfect
religious knowledge, than they believe themselves and their teachers to
possess where they are. With such an example before us, we can give
more easy credence to the stories told of Pythagoras, of Solon, and
Herodotus; how they visited distant countries to learn the way of God
and man more perfectly. Nor must we pass by the proof, which the journey
of the Chinese travellers affords, that, what may be called missionary
zeal is not an apanage of Christianity alone. An account of their
travels will be found in the next chapter. The second publication
to which we refer, is _Buddhaghosa's Parables_, translated from the
Burmese, by Capt. T. Rogers; with an introduction containing _Buddha's
Dhammapada_, or _Path of Virtue_, translated from the Pâli, by Max
Müller; London, Trubner & Co., 1870, 8vo. pp. 374. This work is of such
importance to all students of the Science of Religion, that we shall
notice it in a separate essay. The third contribution, is _The Modern
Buddhist_, being the views of a Siamese Minister of State, on his own
and other religions, translated, with remarks, by Henry Alabaster,
interpreter of H. B. M., consulate-general in Siam; London, Triibner &
Co., 1870, small 8vo. pp. 91. This has now arrived at a second edition,
and is called _The Wheel of the Law_.

This last book is, perhaps, the most interesting of the three, inasmuch
as it enables us to compare the modern development of the religion of
Buddha, and that of Christ. It enables us, moreover, to see ourselves
and modern Christian doctrines as others see them, and to discover the
essential points at issue, between the followers of the son of Maya
Devi, and of Mary.

The first point to which we would call attention, is the statement that
the Siamese are nowhere excelled in the sincerity of their belief,
and the liberality with which they support their religion. "In Bangkok
alone, there are more than a hundred monasteries, and ten thousand monks
and novices. More than this, every male Siamese, sometime during his
life, and generally in the prime of it, takes orders as a monk, and
retires for some months or years, to practise abstinence and meditation
in a monastery." Against this, or side by side with it, what can Great
Britain, or any other Christian country show? We have, it is true,
plenty of monasteries in Christendom, and in the majority of western
kingdoms, there are colleges and universities for the education of
youth, and there is, in some such institutions, a pretence of meditation
and of abstinence. Yet the finger of scandal points, and has pointed,
for many hundred years, to the disreputable conduct pursued in almost
the whole of such Christian institutions; whereas, not even its enemies
can find evidence to convict Buddhist ascetics of indulging in sensual
gratifications of any kind whatever.

We learn, from Mr Alabaster's preface, that the late king of Siam,
though "eminent amongst monks for his knowledge of the Buddhist
scriptures, boldly preached against the canonicity of those of them,
whose relations were opposed to his reason, and his knowledge of modern
science." "His powers as a linguist were considerable, and enabled him
to use an English library with facility." They are his views--which royal
etiquette prevented him from writing, that inspired his prime minister.
What have we here? Surely it is an example that British rulers, and
especially divines, should follow. Yet with all our boasted skill,
science, and powers of thought, our theologians prefer to preach, and to
uphold, doctrines which they know to be repugnant, both to reason and to
science, rather than abandon that which was propounded when reason and
knowledge were almost in their infancy. Certainly, in this respect,
the believers in Sakya Muni show themselves more sensible than those in

Again, let us quote the following paragraph--pointing out the analogy we
wish to draw, by using a literary contrivance--and calling attention to
the fact, that no Roman Catholic authority in Christian Europe, has yet
dared to say, what a Buddhist ruler does.

"Our {Siamese \ Papal} literature is not only scanty, but nonsensical,
full of stories of {genii \ saints} stealing {women \ relics} and {men
\ saints} fighting with {genii \ devils} and {extraordinary persons\
Elijah and Philip} who could fly through the air, and bring dead
people to life. And, even those works, which profess to teach anything,
generally teach it wrong; so that there is not the least profit, though
one studies them from morning to night" (p. 7).

The following observation is equally powerful--Chaya. Phya.
Praklang--the name of the Siamese author, might, "as a Buddhist, believe
in the existence of a God, sublimed above all human qualities and
attributes--a perfect God, above love, and hatred, and jealousy, calmly
resting in a quiet happiness that nothing could disturb; and of such a
God he would speak no disparagement, not from a desire to please Him,
or fear to offend Him, but from natural veneration. But he cannot
understand a God with the attributes and qualities of men, a God who
loves and hates, and shows anger, a Deity, who, whether described to him
by Christian Missionaries, or by Mahometans, Brahmins, or Jews, falls
below his standard of even an ordinary good man" (p. 25).

After the passages which we have quoted, the translator gives many
pages of accounts of conversation between missionaries and the Siamese
minister, which well repay a perusal. They are too long for quotation
entire, but there are three paragraphs that deserve commemoration, as
they show us the reasoning powers of the Buddhist in favourable contrast
to the bigotry of his would-be instructor. "I said, 'then you consider
that even a stone in the bladder is created by God?' He replied, 'Yes,
everything, God creates everything.' 'Then,' answered I, if that is
so, God creates in man that which will cause his death, and you medical
missionaries remove it, and restore his health! Are you not opposing
God by so doing? Are you not offending Him in curing those whom He would
kill?' When I had said this the missionary became angry, and saying 'I
was hard to teach,' left me" (p. 29). Again, when he and Dr Gutzlaff
were discussing the story of the creation and "the fall," as taught in
the Christian and Jewish Bible, and the Buddhist has clearly the best of
the argument, the missionary told him, that if any spoke as the minister
had been doing in European countries, he would be put in prison--and
Chaya Phya adds, "I invite particular attention to this statement" (p.
34). Thus, not only in other parts of his work, but here also, he points
out how that which Christian emissaries say is "a religion of peace
on earth and good will to men" is, in reality, one of intolerance and
persecution, even on the showing of its own ministers. In the third
example to which I refer, Gutzlaff is again talking with Chaya upon the
curse of man, and the Siamese speaks thus--"Besides, the Bible says, by
belief in Christ, man shall escape the consequences of Eve's sin; yet
I cannot see that men do so escape in any degree, but suffer just as
others do." The missionary answered, "It is waste of time to converse
with evil men, who will not be taught, and so he left me" (p. 35). When
men like Gutzlaff, who is really eminent in his way, can be so readily
silenced and put to flight by a native of Siam, whose mind is not
familiar with the science and logical training of European thinkers, it
is by no means surprising that cultivated Englishmen should refuse
to believe in the childish stories and foolish doctrines that are
promulgated by Christians at home, as being an inspired and infallible
revelation from the Almighty. Alas, for our country and her people!
they have much to unlearn as well as to learn before they can lay a fair
claim to the position which they assume to hold.

We may next quote the following, as being useful to missionary societies
here. After having described the religion of Papists, Protestants, and
Mormons, Chaya says, "All these three sects worship the same God and
Christ, why, then, should they blame each other, and charge each other
with believing wrongfully, and say to each other, 'You are wrong, and
will go to Hell; we are right, and shall go to Heaven?' You make us
think that it is one religion which Christians hold, yet how can we join
it when each party threatens us with Hell if we agree with another sect,
and there is none to decide between them? I beg comparison of this with
the teaching of the Lord Buddha, that whoever endeavours to keep the
commandments, and is charitable, and walks virtuously, must attain to
Heaven" (p. 43). The commandments referred to are--

1st. Thou shalt not destroy nor cause the destruction of any living

2d. Thou shalt not, either by fraud or violence, obtain or keep that
which belongs to another.

3d. Thou shall not lie carnally with any but proper objects for thy

4th. Thou shalt not attempt, either by word or action, to lead others to
believe that which is not true.

5th. Thou shalt not become intoxicated.

We much fear, that if the commandments which nominal Christians observe
are contrasted with those kept by the Buddhists, that the former must be
regarded as much lower in the scale of religious civilization than the

The Siamese author next discusses the question, "how shall a man select
that religion which he can trust to for his future happiness?" His
answer is, "He must reflect, and apply his mind to ascertain which
comes nearest to truth." Then follow a few very true remarks about the
difficulty of shaking off any faith once adopted--about the causes
which determine men to change their belief, and, in illustration of the
difficulties, the author quotes a sermon by Buddha to those who were
in doubt, and desired to select a right religion. "And the Lord Buddha
answered, You are right to doubt, for it was a doubtful matter. I say
unto all of you, do not believe in what ye have heard, that is, when you
have heard anyone say this is especially good or extremely bad; do not
reason with yourselves, that if it had not been true it would not
have been asserted, and so believe in its truth. Neither have faith in
traditions, because they have been handed down for many generations, and
in many places.

"Do not believe in anything because it is rumoured and spoken of by
many; do not think that is a proof of its truth.

"Do not believe merely because the written statement of some old sage is
produced; do not be sure that the writing has ever been revised by the
said sage, or can be relied on. Do not believe in what you have fancied,
thinking that, because an idea is extraordinary, it must have been
implanted by a Deva, or some wonderful being.

"Do not believe in guesses, that is, assuming something at haphazard, as
a starting point, and then drawing conclusions from it--reckoning your
two and your three and your four before you have fixed your number one.

"Do not believe because you think there is an analogy, that is, a
suitability in things and occurrences--such as believing that there must
be walls of the world because you see water in a basin, or that Mount
Meru must exist because you have seen the reflection of trees, or that
there must be a creating god because houses and towers have builders.

"Do not believe in the truth of that to which you have become attached
by habit, as every nation believes in the superiority of its own dress,
and ornaments, and language.

"Do not believe because your informant appears to be a credible person,
as, for instance, when you see anyone having a very sharp appearance,
conclude that he must be clever and trustworthy: or, when you see anyone
who has powers and abilities beyond what men generally possess, believe
in what he tells; or think that a great nobleman is to be believed, as
he would not be raised by the king to high station unless he were a good

"Do not believe merely on the authority of your teachers and masters,
or believe and practise merely because they believe and practise.

"I tell you all, you must of yourselves know, that 'this is evil, this
is punishable, this is censured by wise men, belief in this will bring
no advantage to anyone, but will cause sorrow;' and when you know this,
then eschew it" (pp. 45-47). Then follows a long account of the examples
which Buddha gave to his disciples, examining them by questions, whose
answer is obvious; but these, though wonderfully to the point, are too
long for quotation, and we must refer our readers to the book itself.
Nor do we act thus, reluctantly, for we believe that every honest
inquirer will thank us for the introduction. We should rejoice if
some of our divines became acquainted with it. They might draw as
many valuable texts from the discourses attributed to Buddha, herein
described, as they do now from Jesus' sermon on the mount. We may add,
in passing, that, in the conversation of Sakya Muni, he says, "it is
better to believe in a future life, in which happiness or misery can
be felt, for if the heart believes therein, it will abandon sin and act
virtuously; and even if there is no resurrection, such a life will bring
a good name and the regard of men. But those who believe in extinction
at death, will not fail to commit any sin that they may choose, because
of their disbelief in a future; and if there should happen to be a
future after all, they will be at a disadvantage--they will be like
travellers without provisions" (p. 54).

The following exposition of modern Buddhist belief well deserves

"Buddhists believe that every act, word, or thought, has its
consequence, which will appear sooner or later in the present, or in
some future state. Evil acts will produce evil consequences, i.e., may
cause a man misfortune in this world, or an evil birth in hell, or as
an animal in some future existence. Good acts, etc., will produce good
consequences; prosperity in this world, or birth in heaven, or in a high
position in the world in some future state" (p. 57).

We will only add, that if the value of Buddhism, like Christianity, is
to be known by its fruits, it is clear, that the former, as practised
generally in Siam, is decidedly superior to the latter as practised in
Great Britain, America, and Christendom, generally.


     Priority of Buddhism to Christianity. Strange assumptions.
     When was India first known to Christians? Thomas the
     Apostle, When Asceticism was introduced into Christianity.
     Results of inquiry into the introduction of Christianity
     into India. Tarshish and Ceylon. Peacocks known as the
     Persian birds to the Greeks, temp. Aristophanes. Indian
     elephants in army of Darius. Roman traffic with India, b.c.
     30. Buddhist missionaries. The gift of tongues. Rise of
     Asceticism in Western Asia. Essenes again. Collection of
     Buddhist writings, 450 b.c. Degeneracy of original Faith.
     Missionaries from China to Hindostan in search of Buddhist
     works and knowledge. Travels of Fah Hian, their experience
     and remarks. Quotations from their writings. Footprints of
     Buddha and Peter. Immaculate conception of Sakya. Old
     Simeon--a repetition. Wise men from the East. St. Ursula.
     Three Buddhist councils to compile scriptures. Buddhism
     lapsed into image-worship and processions. Progress of the
     pilgrims. Return by sea. Deductions. Developments of
     Christianity and Asceticism. Observations about travelling.

With the usual pertinacity of Englishmen, there are many devout
individuals who, on finding that Buddhism and Christianity very closely
resemble each other, asseverate, with all the vehemence of an assumed
orthodoxy, that the first has proceeded from the second. Nor can the
absurdity of attempting to prove that the future must precede the past
deter them from declaring that Buddhism was promulgated originally
by Christian missionaries from Judea, and then became deteriorated by
Brahminical and other fancies! It is really difficult, sometimes, to
discover what are the real tenets of the obstinate orthodox to whom
we refer; but, so far as we can learn from the character of their
opposition, it would appear that they do not deny the existence of such
a man as Sakya Muni, to whom his followers gave the name of Buddha. Just
in the same way, we may add, as his followers gave the name of Jesus
Christ to Ben Panther. Whilst allowing that Siddartha founded a new
religion, the orthodox assert that all its bad parts are human, whilst
all its good parts consist of doctrines tacked on to the original, after
Christianity had been introduced into India, by one or more of Jesus'
apostles or disciples.

If, for the sake of argument, we accord to such cavillers the position
of reasonable beings, and ask them to give us some proof of the
assertion, that early Christian people went to Hindostan and preached
the gospel there; or even to point out, in history, valid proofs that
India was known to a single apostle, we find that they have nothing to
say beyond the vaguest gossip.

What the testimony is we may find by turning to the article Thomas,
in Kitto's _Cyclopœdia of Biblical Literature_, which was written by
a learned professor of Gottingen. Therein we see, and the statement
is amply vouched by quotation from authorities, that the Apostle in
question is said to have preached the gospel in Parthia and in Persia,
and to have been buried in Edessa; and that, according to a later
tradition, Thomas went to India, and suffered martyrdom there. Then
follows a statement that this account has been assailed, &c. Similar
traditions are mentioned by Dean Stanley in Smith's "_Dictionary of the
Bible_" with the addition that it is now believed that the Thomas of
Malabar Christian fame was a Nestorian missionary.

Eusebius writes, book v., ch. 10, speaking of Pantaenus, about
a.d. 190--"He is said to have displayed such ardour... that he was
constituted a herald of the gospel of Christ to the nations of the East,
and advanced even as far as India; and the report is, that he there
found his own arrival anticipated by some who were acquainted with
the gospel of Matthew, to whom Bartholomew, one of the Apostles, had
preached, and had left them the gospel of Matthew in the Hebrew, which
was also preserved unto this time. Pantænus became finally the head of
the Alexandrian school." Such a piece of gossip no historian can trust
for a moment.

Socrates, in his _Ecclesiastical History_, about a.d. 420, writes,
"We must now mention by what means the profession of Christianity
was extended in Constantine's reign, for it was in his time that the
nations, both of the Indians in the interior, and the Iberians, first
embraced the Christian faith. But it may be needful briefly to explain
why the expression in the interior is appended. When the apostles went
forth by lot amongst the nations, Thomas received the apostleship of the
Parthians. Matthew was allotted Ethiopia, and Bartholomew the part of
India contiguous to that country; but the interior of India, which was
inhabited by many barbarous nations, using different languages, was not
enlightened by Christian doctrine before the time of Constantine," about
320 A.D. Then follows a story of a Tynan philosopher, who, with two
youths, took ship, and arrived somewhere in India, just after the
violation of a treaty between that country and the Romans. Everyone in
the ship was killed but the two lads, who, being young, were sent as a
present to the Indian king. One became a cupbearer, the other the royal
recorder. The king died, freeing the youths, and the queen, left with a
young son, made the strangers his tutors, or regents. One, who was the
highest, then began to inquire whether, amongst the Roman merchants
trafficking with that country, there were any Christians to be found.
Having discovered some, he induced them to select a place for worship,
and he subsequently built a church, into which he admitted some Indians,
after previous instruction. The other youth comes back to Tyre, and then
the regent comes to Alexandria, talks to Athanasius, and begs him to
send a bishop and clergy to the place he has left, to which no name is
given. To the latter youth Frumentius, ordination is given, and he
returns to India to preach, to perform miracles, and build oratories,
[--Greek--]. The historian, adds Rufinus, assures us that he heard these
facts from the former king's cupbearer, Edesius, who was afterwards
inducted into the sacred office at Tyre.

We may next quote the _Epitome of the Ecclesiastical History of
Philostorgius_ (who wrote about A.D. 425), compiled by Photius,
Patriarch of Constantinople. Therein we may observe how completely the
first contradicts Socrates as before quoted, and may also infer
the reason why. In book ii., ch. 6, the words run, "The impious
Philostorgius relates, that the Christians in Central India, who were
converted to the faith of Christ by the preaching of St. Bartholomew,
believe that the son is not of the same substance with the father." He
adds that "Theophilus, the Indian who had embraced this opinion, came to
them and delivered it to them as a doctrine; and also that these Indians
are now called Homeritæ, instead of their old name, Sabæans, which they
received from the city of Saba, the chief city of the whole nation."
This leads me to doubt very strongly whether the ecclesiastical writers
in early days did not group, under the name of India, the southern parts
of Arabia, Persia, and Beloochistan.

Sozomen, writing about the period of 325 A.D., says, book ii, ch. 24,
"We have heard that about this period some of the most distant of the
nations that we call Indian, to whom the preaching of Bartholomew was
unknown, were converted to Christianity by Frumentius, a priest." Then
follows an enlarged edition of the legend told by Socrates, and the
words, "it is said that Frumentius discharged his priestly functions so
admirably that he became an object of universal admiration." Theodoret,
writing about 420 A.D., places the conversion of the Indians about 328
A.D., and gives substantially the same account as the preceding writers
whom we have quoted.

We will not, however, content ourselves with this short notice, but
will first inquire whether, if the accounts of the earlier reporters,
Eusebius, Socrates, Clement, and Rufinus, who wrote about a.d. 320,
390, 190, and 370, are not to be trusted, we can believe the stories of
Gregory Nazianzen, Ambrose, Jerome, Nicephorus, and Abdias, who wrote
about a.d. 380, 380, 400, 815, and 910 respectively. If we believe one
set of Christian "fathers," that Thomas the apostle died in Syria, we
cannot credit a set of Christian "sons," who affirm that he was martyred
in India. But--and the point is an important one--we can see reason why
the children should invent an account of which the parents saw not the
necessity. About the period of Gregory Nazianzen arose that asceticism
which sent Simeon Stylites upon the top of his pillar in a.d. 394, and
kept him there for the rest of his life, and that peopled the Thebaid
with hermits of the most approved Buddhist order--celibates shunning
luxury, and cultivating filthiness of the outer to cleanse the inner
man. The way in which the original faith, preached by Jesus and modified
by Paul, was distorted during the first few centuries in Egypt can only
be rationally accounted for by a spread of Buddhist doctrines by Indian
missionaries, or promulgated by Christian merchants, who had travelled
to the Indies, and modified their original faith by what they saw and
heard from the followers of the great Sramana; and it was natural for
the Alexandrian Christians to adopt the modifications referred to, and
to stamp the innovations with the assertion that they were
apostolic reflections--rays of divine light falling from "the sun of
righteousness" upon the mind of the blessed Saint Somebody, Thomas, for
this purpose, being a name which answered as well as any other. There is
positively no evidence whatever--except some apocryphal Jesuit stories
about certain disciples of Jesus, found by Papal missionaries at
Malabar--that any disciple of Mary's son ever proceeded to Hindostan to
preach the gospel during the first centuries of our era. Those who
know the history of the "Decretals," and of Prester John, can readily
estimate the value of tales told by Jesuits in India, where there was
not at the time anyone to test their veracity.

Being myself desirous of ascertaining what evidence really exists--or
existed in the times of ancient authors, whose works have come down to
us--of the knowledge of India by Europeans in days gone by, I instituted
an inquiry, with the determination to be impartial. The results obtained
were the following:--

The only reason for believing that Hindostan and Ceylon were known to
the Phoenicians is a short passage in the Biblical History of Solomon,
in which we are told that after a three years' absence, Hiram's Tyrian
sailors returned from Tarshish, bringing what our translators call
ivory, apes, and peacocks. The words in the Hebrew original are said
by Tennant to be all but identical with those in use in Ceylon at
the present date. For a full account of the probable identity of the
Tarshish in the passage alluded to and Galle, see Emerson Tennant's
_History of Ceylon_.

Yet, if we grant that the Tyrian shipmen traded to India, we are bound
to confess that the knowledge which they acquired died with them;
nor did their successors, the Greeks, know anything distinctly about
Hindostan prior to the time of Alexander the Great. In the Biblical
story of Esther we are told, i. 1, viii. 9, that a Persian king reigned
from India to Ethiopia, the Hebrew word for the former being _Hodoo_,
supposed to be a form of _handoo_, or _hindoo_; Pehlevi, _hendo_; Zend,
_heando_; Sanscrit, _Sindhu_ (Fürst, s.v.), equivalent to the Greek
_Indikee_, or the country of the Indus. We find reason to believe that
the India of Artaxerxes was a portion of Hindostan--first, because the
Persian monarch had Indian soldiers in his army, and elephants, when
he fought with Alexander; and secondly, because the peacock, a bird of
Ceylon, was known to the Greeks, in the time of Aristophanes, as "the
Persian bird." That the Persians traded with Northern India we infer,
from the account which Appian gives us of the advance eastward of
Alexander, after his victory at Arbela. But the whole story of the
Grecian warrior's advance into the Punjaub and down the Indus, contains,
in itself, tolerably clear proof that Hindostan was very little known to
the Greeks. Of a subsequent invasion of India by Alexander's successor,
Seleucus Nicator; of the mission of Megasthenes to Sandracottus, the
grandfather of Asoka, the Buddhist Constantine; of the navigation of the
Grecian ship down the Indus, and the subsequent traffic by land and
sea between the Greeks and the Hindoos, we need not say more than that
Augustus, b.c. 30, regulated the trade to Hindostan, _via_ Alexandria,
and that, at the time of Pliny the elder, about A.D. _60_, voyages were
being made to India every year, companies of archers being carried on
board the vessels to protect them from pirates. We learn also that a
twelvemonth did not elapse without a drain upon the Roman Empire of
about one million and a-half sterling for India, in exchange for Hindoo
wares (book vi., ch. 26).

At the period Pliny refers to, and for a long time previously, there
can be no pretence that any of Jesus' apostles accompanied traders to
Hindostan, for every one of them were employed nearer home. On the other
hand, we may inquire into the possibility and the reasonableness of
Buddhist missionaries travelling westward in the course of Alexandrian
traffic, or of the caravans which, we have grounds for believing, came
through Persia to the Roman Empire.

On turning to Oriental literature, we find that the often-mentioned King
Asokâ adopted Buddhism as the religion of his empire about b.c. 250, and
that, in his time, missionaries carried that faith successfully to the
uttermost parts of Hindostan--to Burmah, to Ceylon, to Japan, to Thibet,
and to China. The envoys carried with them, in some instances, written
books, in others, their guide was oral tradition. Wherever they went
they bore a biography of Sakya--or Buddha--accounts of miracles that he
had performed, and a summary, more or less extended, of his preaching or
doctrines. This dispersion of Hindoo envoys was about fifty years later
than the mission of the Greek Megasthenes to the court of Asokâ's
grandfather, and it is quite as probable that Buddhist preachers went to
enlighten what they imagined to be the benighted, and what they knew
to be the then defeated Grecians, as that they went over frightful
mountains and stormy seas to Thibet, China, and Japan.

We may profitably pause for a moment here, to contemplate that which
I at one time believed to be the most wonderful of all the miracles
recorded in the New Testament, viz., "the gift of tongues." The
references to this which we meet with in the epistles of the apostle
Paul might lead to the supposition, that some who had this "gift" spoke
mere gibberish--something which was not, either in intention or in
reality, an utterance in a foreign language; but the story of the
original imparting of power to speak in a previously unknown tongue
involves the idea, that the disciples had, on the occasion referred
to, a faculty given to them, by which they knew the languages used
by various nationalities, without the trouble of learning them. Many
divines have held that such ability was absolutely necessary to those
who had to go forth to teach all nations the doctrines of the gospel I
am quite aware that, however earnest I might be to propagate truth,
I could not go, with advantage, to preach in Russia, because I know
nothing of its language.

Doubt in the reality of the miracle recorded in Acts ii. was not born
until I found that Buddhist missionaries went out into distant lands,
where their own tongue was unknown, and yet made converts. When once I
felt dubious as regards the veracity of the historian, I began to notice
what the apostles generally did when they went to a new country or town.
Their practice seems to have been to have visited synagogues of the Jews
living on the spot--and able, if they chose, to be interpreters--or,
where there were such establishments, "the schools" were visited, where
the students and the masters understood Greek. In the time of Paul the
language of the Hellenes was spoken by Romans of high position, much as
French was spoken at the court of Frederic the Great of Prussia, and
as German is at St. Petersburg. The Apostle seems to have spoken Greek
readily, and when he could use that tongue or the Hebrew he was fluent.
I have sought in vain for evidence that either Paul or any of the
Apostles ever addressed a foreign mob, whose language was neither Greek
nor Hebrew. A study of the nineteenth chapter of the Acts will show
this--especially, we must notice the end of the tenth verse, where we
are told "that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both
_Jews and Greeks_." When disturbance occurred in the theatre, Paul was
not the orator put forward to appease the people--he probably could not
speak their patois. Yet he tells us, 1 Cor. xiv. 18, that he spoke with
tongues more than his fellows.*

     * There is much difference amongst ecclesiastical writers
     respecting what is called the "gift of tongues." The
     difficulty arises mainly from the desire to reconcile "the
     true" with "the absurd." Starting from the point that all
     "scripture" is written by "inspiration of God," the orthodox
     are obliged to receive the account narrated in Acts ii. as
     being literally correct.

In plain language, the story runs thus:--The Apostles, twelve in number,
were sitting in a room. Whilst there, a noise was heard, and something
like fiery tongues, more or less split, appeared, and one settled upon
each of the company. These all, at once, began to speak in languages
which were strange to all.

From the noise made, neighbours had their attention called, and from one
mouth to another the tidings of the ranting ran, until it reached the
ears of devout men, who, from every nation under heaven, were then
assembled in Jerusalem. Whether these foreigners were Hebrews, or
whether they, being strangers, had the gift of understanding the reports
couched in Aramaic, we do not know. But it is narrated that, in the
course of a few minutes--possibly an hour or two--the devout strangers
came to listen to the Apostles, either speaking singly or at once.

As these foreigners noticed what was said, they recognized words
in their own respective dialects, and then the Parthian said to the
Mede--the Elamite to the Mesopotamian--the Phrygian to the Pamphyliaji,
&c., "What does all this mean?" So to interchange a question involves
that the interlocutors, like the Apostles, had suddenly received the
gift of speaking, and understanding, other tongues than their own. When
the listeners had convinced themselves about the marvel, each began to
talk in his own language, and the Jews understood them to say, "What
meaneth this?" the Hebrews, like the rest, having also the gift of
knowing what was said in a strange language.

Some, however, had not this power of interpretation, and remarked, "the
fellows are drunk!" For a moment we pause to inquire how many people
there were in one room of one house. The Apostles were twelve;
then there were, at least three, Parthians, Medes, &c., in all about
forty-five more, and in addition, there were "the mockers." To all
these Peter preached, and the wonders of the day were crowned by the
conversion of three thousand people!

It seems, therefore, to be clear, from the account of this extraordinary
miracle, that the Apostles then gathered together acquired the power of
expressing their thoughts in languages which they had never learned, the
judges of the feat being those whose dialects were spoken.

If we now proceed in biblical order to examine into the ideas connected
with this strange faculty, we find, in Acts x. 44-46, that the
circumcised Jews alone were satisfied, in the plenitude of their own
ignorance, that Cornelius and his company could "speak with tongues."
Again, in Acts xix. 6, we learn that certain Ephesians, after baptism,
and imposition of hands, "spake with tongues "--no judge of the fact
being quoted.

In 1 Cor. xii. 10, we discover that amongst the gifts of the Holy Spirit
are "kinds of tongues," and the interpretation thereof which will,
probably, remind the lover of Shakespeare of Act iv. Scenes 1 and 3,
in "All's well that ends well," wherein there is a nonsensical jargon
spoken by one person which another interprets to the satisfaction of the
silly Parolles. In vv 28, 30, we see strong indications that the gift
of tongues and interpretation may be compared to some things now heard
of in spiritualistic or other conjuring séances.

This notion of "speaking with other tongues" reaches its climax,
apparently, in 1 Cor. xiii. 1, wherein Paul indicates, but does not
positively assert, that he can "speak with the tongues of men and
angels," a boast which 2 Cor. xii. 4 leads us to take literally. But how
any one on earth could test the reality of assertion it is difficult to

In 1 Cor. xiv. we see indications that "speaking with tongues" is little
more or less than a sort of hysterical utterance of gibberish, which
we may compare to the once celebrated chorus of

     Lilli-bullero-lero-lero-Lillibullero bullen a la.

One may now ask, "Why did people think that it was part of the
Christian's privileges or powers to speak with tongues?" The only answer
which I can discover is indicated in Acts ii. 18, wherein we find it
given as the opinion of Peter, that a certain vaticination in Joel
applied to the followers of Jesus. The philosopher may wonder at the
ignorance--possibly at the knowledge--which confounded "prophesying"
with the utterance of unintelligible rubbish; but the philologist should
be led to investigate more strictly the real signification of words,
and to inquire into the theories which are traceable to false

Considerations such as these, which might be multiplied indefinitely,
I have come to the belief that the Apostles of Jesus were no better, as
regards their knowledge of foreign tongues, than their predecessors,
the missionaries sent by Asokâ, or than the modern envoys sent out by a
London Society.

What renders it probable that Buddhist ascetics found their way,
probably amongst the camp followers of Antiochus the Great, and
endeavoured to promulgate their doctrines in western Asia, is the fact
that a sect sprang up amongst the Jews after the Grecian conquest of
Palestine--called "The Essenes," to which we have before referred,
amongst whose tenets Buddhism and Judaism were closely mingled The
asceticism practised by this sect was, so far as we know, different to
anything known at that time in Greece or Western Asia, and as it came
into fashion at the same time in Palestine as Indian elephants and
Hindoo Mahouts, there is some reason for the belief that it was brought
by disciples of Siddartha. Without dwelling upon this again, we return
to the well ascertained fact that Buddhism was promulgated most widely
in Eastern and Northern Asia about 250 b.c., that a collection of
religious books was made about two hundred years prior to that date, and
that these were revised again during Asokâ's reign. But, however earnest
were the teachers and the taught, the scriptures which they respected
were so voluminous and the facilities for multiplying them were so
small, that it happened, as it did amongst early Christians, that many a
church had no written book of the law. As a consequence of this, one
part or another of Sakya's doctrines became exalted unduly in one
locality, whilst in another a portion was left out of sight. Stories,
also, of miracles became varied, just as we find that they have been by
the writers in the New Testament, the tendency being, as in the history
of the blind man near Jericho, to exaggerate the wonder--for example,
Mark and Luke, chap. x. and xviii, give an account of one man being
cured of blindness, whilst Matthew, chap, xx., tells us that there were
two. The narrators under such circumstances act as if they thought that
it is as easy for a divinity to heal two or two thousand as to cure one,
and we who tolerate the practice in a Christian evangelist must not
ridicule it in Buddhist disciples.

When we contemplate the confusion that existed in the Christian
church--the gradual deterioration of the faith taught by Jesus, and more
especially by Paul, and the steady absorption of Pagan rites into the
worship inaugurated by Peter and the other apostles, we can readily
understand that in the course of six or seven hundred years there would
be reason in countries distant from the home of Siddartha to deplore
the gradual decadence of Buddhism, and a desire amongst the devout for
tuition at the fountain-head. In modern times we have read of hierarchs
coming from the uttermost parts of the earth to consult the Roman
Pontiff upon points of discipline affecting the church, and we therefore
see without surprise that, about A.D. 400, six hundred years after it
had been planted, the congregation of Buddhists in China had within
it men who determined to go to India, and bring back to their
fellow-worshippers what they hoped would be a purer doctrine than that
which they were accustomed to, and, if possible, to secure authentic
books. Pilgrimage, with this object, cannot be regarded as being so
absurd as that which has in modern days taken numbers of Christians to
Lourdes, in the Pyrenees, or to St. Paray-le-Monial.

Ere we describe this Chinese search after truth, let us imagine a
Christian from Central Russia determining to seek for enlightenment at
Antioch about a.d. 640, and subsequently at the seven churches named
in the Apocalypse--and afterwards writing his experience. We should be
certain to find him bewailing the fall of Christianity and the rise
of Islam. We may indeed affirm that if such a history was now to be
discovered undated, we should regard it as having been written before
or after the date named, according as "the churches" were described as
being the seat of Mahommedism or of Christianity. Still further, if in
every place which this traveller visited, he found a general belief in
the stories told of Jesus and in the efficacy of his doctrine, we should
consider this as proof that the people remained faithful to their early
teaching. If, on the other hand, the wanderer found himself proscribed
in any locality as a benighted heathen, without knowledge of the way
of salvation--he would naturally think that a teacher had given to its
inhabitants instruction different from that which was familiar to him.
I do not exaggerate when I say that a genuine account of the travels in
search of sound Christian doctrine through every part of Europe in the
fifth century of our era, would be invaluable as an indication of the
tenure of certain doctrines, not only in various localities, but as
to the existence or the reverse of dogmas now regarded as of supreme

Such a manuscript, which, however, relates to Buddhism and not to
Christianity, exists in China, and it has lately been translated into
English _Travels of Fah-Hian and Sung-Yun, Buddhist Pilgrims from China
to India_, 400 a.d. and 518 a.d., translated from the Chinese by Samuel
Bea. (Trübner & Co., London, 1869.) It tells us, in a singularly terse
style, how a large portion of China was traversed by these pilgrims;--of
the terrible journey over the mountains to the north of Hindustan; of a
visit to the birth-place of Siddartha; to Benares, to Calcutta, and to
Ceylon;--with an account of the return voyage in a good-sized ship back
again to China. Everywhere, with one single exception, they find the law
of Buddha prevailing. The place referred to as exceptional is Yopoti,
Java, of which it is said: "In this country, heretics and Brahmins
flourish; but the law of Buddha is not much known" (p. 168). In every
other spot which they visit the Chinese wanderers speak applaudingly of
the hold which the religion of Siddartha has upon the people, and the
exemplary conduct of the faithful. From the beginning of the journey
to the end, the enquirers appear always to have found the same form of
faith which had been preached in their own country six hundred years
before. The most careful investigator fails to find a shadow of those
doctrines in which the teaching of Jesus differs from that of Sakya.
There is not any allusion made to an impending dissolution of the world,
to baptism, or to any sacrament; every remark relates to the essentials
of Buddhism as known in each place where Europeans have been able to
peruse the authorized Buddhist scriptures.

We may now quote some passages bearing on important points. About the
sources of the Indus: "All the priests asked Fah-Hian what he knew as
to the time when the law of Buddha began to spread eastward from their
country." Hian replied, "On enquiry, men of those lands agreed in saying
that, according to an ancient tradition, Shamans from India began to
carry the sacred books of Buddha beyond the river, from the time when
the image of Maitreya Bodhisatwa was set up." This image was set up
three hundred years or so after the Nirvana of Buddha (about B.C.
243--or, according to some estimates, B.C. 177), which corresponds with
the time of Pingwang of the Chan family (b.c. 770--the Chinese date of
Buddha's Nirvana being different from that which is usually received in
India.) Hence it may be said that the diffusion of the great doctrine
can be attributed to the influence of this image. For, apart from the
power of the divine teacher Mait-reya, who followed in the footsteps
of Sakya, who would have been sufficient to cause the knowledge of the
three precious ones to be spread so far, that even men on the outskirts
of the world acquired that knowledge? We may conclude, therefore, with
certainty, that the origin of this diffusion of the law of Buddha was no
human work, but sprung from the same cause as the dream of Ming Ti
(pp. 23-25). The three precious ones above referred to, are the Buddhist
trinity, everywhere acknowledged, Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha--or, as
some say, Buddha--the law and the church. The dream of Ming Ti resembles
that which we know as the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary, and foretells
the coming of "the Saviour," one of the names given to Siddartha. The
vision of a divine being, 70 feet high, with a body like gold, and
his head glorious as the sun--one who is fanciful may here discern a
likeness to the individual described in Rev. i. 13, seq.--induced the
king to send to India to seek after the law of Fo, or Buddha. Some one
speaking of two great towers adorned with all the precious substances,
which had been erected at a certain town--the Taxila of the Greeks--to
commemorate episodes in the life of Buddha, makes the remark "The kings,
ministers, and people of all the surrounding countries vie with each
other in making religious offerings at these places, in scattering
flowers and burning incense continually" (p. 33).

"In the city of Hilo is the Vitiara containing the relic of the
skull-bone of Buddha. This Vitiara is entirely covered with plates of
gold, and decorated with the seven precious substances (gold, silver,
lapis lazuli, crystal, cornelian, coral, and ruby.) The king of the
country reverences in a high degree this sacred relic." As this example
shows well the Buddhist veneration for memorials of the dead, I will not
quote more. It is clear that old bones were regarded with religious
awe in Hindostan before they were enshrined in Christendom. In the case
above recorded, "extraordinary pains are taken to preserve the relic
from theft or substitution, and the king offers flowers and incense
in front of it daily, then bends his head to the ground before it
in adoration, and departs." In another place Buddha's robe is kept,
although we may fairly doubt whether he ever possessed one, but
doubtless it is quite as authentic as "the holy coat" of Treves, or the
Virgin Mary's milk. There is another relic of Sakya not yet copied by
Christian pagans, viz., the shadow of the great teacher--which lives
in a cave, and can only be seen by the faithful (p. 45, 46). We commend
this to thaumaturgical Gallican divines, such as those who describe how
certain it is that Mary of Judea came to show herself at Lourdes, and to
talk French.

On arriving at the Punjaub the record states, "The law of Buddha is
prosperous and flourishing here..." On seeing disciples from China
coming among them they were much affected, and spoke thus: "How
wonderful to think that men from the ends of the earth should know the
character of this religion, and should come thus far to seek the law
of Buddha. We received from them all that we required, and were treated
according to the provisions of the law" (p. 51,52). "All the kingdoms
beyond the sandy deserts are spoken of as belonging to Western India.
The kings of all these countries firmly believe in the law of Buddha"
(pp. 53, 54).

In the following, we may see the prototype of monasteries, "From the
time of Buddha's Nirvana, the kings and nobles of all these countries
began to erect viharas for the priesthood, and to endow them with lands,
gardens, houses, and also men and oxen to cultivate them. The records
of these endowments being engraved on sheets of copper, have been handed
down from one king to another, so that no one has dared to deprive
them of possession, and they continue to this day to enjoy their proper
revenues. All the resident priests have chambers, beds, coverlets, food,
drink, and clothes provided for them without stint or reserve. Thus it
is in all places. The priests, on the other hand, continually employ
themselves in reciting their scriptures, in works of benevolence, or in
profound meditation" (pp. 55, 56).

It is very important that we should notice, although it is unnecessary
to dwell upon the fact, that the pilgrims visited the spot whence Buddha
went up to heaven to preach his law to his mother Maya, who died when
her child was seven days old, and, consequently, long before he became
"the Saviour." The son remained with his parent three months (p. 62.)
Jesus, it will be remembered, only preached to the spirits in prison
during a day and a-half--which, by common consent, passes amongst
Christians for three days. I may also notice that there is mentioned (p.
66), an idea that three Buddhas existed before the advent of Sakya Muni,
and that the following are their precepts, translated from the
Chinese copy of a Buddhist book:--1. The heart carefully avoiding idle
dissipation, diligently applying itself to religion, forsaking all lust
and consequent disappointment, fixed and immovable, attains Nirvana
(rest.) 2. Practising no vice, advancing in the exercise of virtue, and
purifying the mind from evil; this is the doctrine of all the Buddhas.
3. To keep one's tongue, to cleanse one's mind, to do no ill--this
is the way to purify oneself throughout, and to attain this state of
discipline is the doctrine of all the great sages (p. 66).

The Buddhists also preserve impressions of Siddartha's feet and show
them to pilgrims, just as certain papal priests show the impressions of
St. Peter's feet at a church a little outside Rome, on the Appian
way. The pilgrims "visit Kapilavastu, now a desert, but once the royal
residence of Suddhodana. There are here a congregation of priests and
ten families of lay people. In the ruined palace there is a picture of
the Prince Apparent and his mother (supposed to be) taken at the time
of his miraculous conception. The prince is represented as descending
towards his mother riding on a white elephant." This elephant came from
the Tusita heaven surrounded by light like the sun, and entered the
left side of the mother. As the elephant is the strongest of known
terrestrial animals, it certainly represented "The power of the Highest"
(see Luke i. 35), and we may draw one of two inferences--either that the
sons of Maya and Mary were conceived equally miraculously, or that the
story of one is just as true or as incredible as that of the other.
Certainly the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception was known in India
long before it was enunciated by a Christian Pope in Rome. Perhaps, had
Pio Nono known that he was copying a Buddhistic story, he would have
wavered long before he assimilated his religion to that of Siddartha.
At the same locality a tower is raised to mark the spot where the Rishi
(Saint or Prophet) Asita calculated the horoscope of Sakya, and declared
that he would become a supreme Buddha--a legend which is very similar
to that told of old Simeon and the infant Jesus (Luke ii. 25, seq.). The
pilgrims were also shown the garden--not a stable--in which Maya brought
forth her son, and wherein immediately afterwards the infant walked. Two
dragon kings--perhaps wise men from the East--washed the infant's body,
and this spot afterwards became a sacred well (p. 88).

We must pass by an account of a miracle, to the full as wonderful and
quite as incredible as that of Saint Ursula and the eleven thousand
virgins, who left their bones at Cologne because it has no distinct
reference to Buddha. (P. 97)--But I may mention that the Chinese writer
states after the end of the story, that a certain violation of the law
occurred one hundred years after Sakya's death, and upon this record Mr
Beal has the following important note--"This refers to the second great
council of the Buddhist church. According to Singhalese authorities
(Mahawanso) there were three great convocations or councils--1st,
immediately after Buddha's death to compile the authorised scriptures;
2d, to refute certain errors that had crept into the church; 3d, under
the great Asokâ," (p. 99). We may doubt the value of the Mahawanso, but
at the same time we may express a wish that early Christians had even a
tradition of a council to compile authorised scriptures about the son
of Mary ere time sufficient had elapsed to allow "the marvellous" to
develop itself into "the incredible."

In like manner I must omit the description of a procession of images,
amongst which that of Buddha is conspicuous; the fête is held at Patna,
supposed to be the ancient Palimbothra where Asokâ reigned. It resembles
in almost all its details the grand processions of the Papists on
certain occasions,--lamps, lights, games, riot, and religious offerings
are mingled together for the healthy and for the sick, and wonderful
cures are provided as far as possible. To this account is to be
appended a very significant, perhaps I might say satirical, note by the
translator of the pilgrims' manuscript. "From the whole of this account
(of the procession of images), it would seem that the Buddhist worship
had already begun to degenerate from its primitive simplicity and
severity. Plays and music and concerts, are strictly forbidden by the
rules of the order; we can begin to see how Buddhism lapsed into Sivite
worship, and sank finally into the horrors of Jaganath" (p. 107). To
the thoughtful reader of our christian history, this note upon Buddhist
processions of images is painfully pregnant. It reminds us that the
followers of Maya's son and Mary's alike lapsed into paganism, and
almost by the same stages. We cannot accuse the Hindoos of copying the
orgies of the Christian saturnalia or carnival, nor do we think that the
Europeans cared to imitate the Hindoos; but what we do believe is that
both parties have fallen lower and lower from their pristine purity in
consequence of the gradually increasing feeling that the generality of
human beings can only be brought under priestly power by an appeal to
their animal propensities.

Some affirm, with great show of argumentation, that it is man's bestial
propensities which lead his race to hell. It may be so, but then, on the
other hand, it is certain that ecclesiastics endeavour to chain us to
their chariots by pandering to, managing, exciting, or otherwise playing
upon those propensities, which man has in common with the sheep, the ox,
the tiger, the serpent, and the elephant. Every form of religion, yet
promulgated, that appeals to sound sense, thought, and reason, has
failed from the want of followers capable of dominating their passions.
Than a pure religion based upon thoughts such as Sakya Muni and the son
of Mary gave utterance to, nothing seems grander, but such is its nature
that it can only be fully embraced by a few. If all are poor, none can
live upon alms--if all sell their worldly goods to purchase Heaven,
no buyers will be found in the market. The Buddhist and the Christian
anchorite may, for a time, live on charity, yet each succeeding
generation of ascetics will more and more dislike the plan of winning
food by misery. We have seen how kings made grand provision for the
comfort of the priestly followers of the son of Maya; and in later
times, we have seen how the followers of the son of Mary have, by
artfulness, provided many similar homes for themselves. Yet, with all
this, there are both Buddhists and Christians who have protested,
by their actions, against religious luxury of every kind. Each of my
readers may judge of what spirit he is, by asking himself whether he
regards such individuals as wise or foolish.

The pilgrims pass on to the place where five hundred saints assembled
after Sakya's death to arrange the collection of sacred books (p.
118)--thence to the spot where Siddartha bathed, and the Dêva or Angel
held out the branch of a tree to assist him in coming out of the water
(p. 121)--thence to the spot where Buddha was tempted by three daughters
of Maka as courtesans, a more severe temptation than befel the Christian
Anthony--and by Mara himself with a vast army; but all uselessly, for
Sakya was as impregnable as Jesus. And we find that in the same spot he
subsequently underwent mortification, not for forty days only, but for
six years. All of these localities are marked by towers, which must,
according to ecclesiastical reasoning, demonstrate the truth of the

After a very long search--for the purpose of Fah Hian was to seek for
copies of the _Vinaya Pitaka_--he found his exertions to find a copy of
the sacred work were useless, because, throughout the whole of Northern
India, the various masters trusted to tradition only for their knowledge
of the precepts, and had no written codes. The pilgrims, however, when
they arrived in Middle India, found a copy, "which was that used by the
first great assembly of priests convened during Buddha's lifetime" (p.
142); this appears to have been generally regarded as the most correct
and complete (p. 144). Fah Hian also obtained "one copy of Precepts, in
manuscript, comprising about 7000 gâthas (verses or stanzas). This
was the same as that generally used in China. In this place also an
imperfect copy of the Abhidharma was obtained, containing 6000 gâthas;
also, an abreviated form of Sutras, or Precepts, containing 2500 verses
in an abreviated form; also, another expanded Sutra, with 5000 verses,
and a second copy of the Abhidharma," according to the school of the
Mahâ Sanghihas (the greater vehicle). "On this account Fah Hian abode in
the place (Patma, the ancient Palibothra) for the space of three years,
engaged in learning to read the Sanscrit books, to converse in that
language, and to copy the Precepts. Here his companion, To Ching,
remained; but Fah Hian, desiring with his whole heart to spread the
knowledge of the Precepts throughout China, returned alone" (p. 146).
This pilgrim then goes to the kingdom of Champa, where he stopped two
years, to copy out sacred Sutras, and to take impressions of the figures
used in worship. Here the law of Buddha was generally respected. He
then sailed in a great merchant vessel for Ceylon (p. 148). From this
expression we presume that he entered a seaport, and, as such, one
likely to have been reached by some Christian missionary, if any had
ever visited India, as Paul attained Asia Minor, Italy, &c. All that we
learn about it, however, is in a translator's note, which tells us that
the place was mentioned by another China man, Hiouen Thsang, who spoke
of the number of heretical sects who were mixed together here--Buddhism
being here corrupted at an early period by local superstitions. In
Ceylon Fah Hian remained two years, and, continuing his search for the
sacred books, obtained a copy of the Vinaya Pitaka, of the great Agama,
and the miscellaneous Agama (books of elementary doctrine), also a
volume of miscellaneous collections from the Pitakas, all of which were
hitherto entirely unknown in China. Having obtained these works in the
original language (Pali), he forthwith shipped himself on board a great
merchant vessel, which carried about 200 men, and started for his native
land (p. 166). "After Fah Hian left home, he was five years in arriving
at Mid India. He resided there during six years, and was three more ere
he arrived again in China. He had successively passed through thirty
different countries." In all the countries of India, after passing the
sandy desert (of Gobi), the dignified carriage of the priesthood, and
the surprising influence of religion (amongst the people), cannot be
adequately described... "Having been preserved by Divine power (by
the influences of the Three honourable Ones), and brought through all
dangers safely, he was induced to commit to writing the record of his
travels, desirous that the virtuous of all ages may be informed of them
as well as himself" (p. 173).

After reading this account, we think that no thoughtful man can
reasonably assert that Christianity was taught in India at an early
period, was widely adopted, and became the parent of Buddhism. If, in
rejoinder, we are told that no writers have asserted that there were
Christians in India in olden times, except in Malabar, the answer is,
that these were described by those who first met with their successors
as totally distinct from the Hindoos, and, consequently, neither
Buddhists nor Brahmins. Moreover, we are told that they were regarded
by the Holy Inquisition of Europe as heretics, and were, consequently,
persecuted by the Christians (see Gibbon's _Roman Empire_, vol. viii,

Rosse, in his book of dates (London, 1858), speaks of an Indian embassy
to Constantine the Great, a.d. 334, and another sent to Constantius the
Second, but received by Julian, A.D. 362. I cannot, however, as yet,
find his authority. But Socrates, in his _Ecclesiastical History_,
book i, ch. 19, about A.D. 331, speaks of a treaty which had been in
existence a short time before, between the Romans and the Indians, but
which had been recently violated. He also, in the same chapter, states
that there were Christians amongst the Roman merchants in India--no
town or locality being given, however, so that we cannot test his
assertion--but that they did not then unite to worship. We find also,
from the same chapter, that up to that period there were no Christian
Indians known.

Coupling the foregoing fragments of history together, we may safely
assert that India, generally, was Buddhist in A.D. 400, and that,
according to Pliny, the Romans, or, rather, the Alexandrians, had been
in yearly communication with the country, for at least three centuries,
at the time of Constantine. As it appears that there were Roman
merchants in India, so we presume that there were Hindoo traders
resident in Egypt. The presumption is, that these were Buddhists, and
that they were attended, or followed, by missionary Buddhist priests.
Absolute proof of this there is none.

We now turn to Gibbon's history, and inquire into the period when
monastic asceticism first began to prevail in Egypt, the necessary
residence of our presumed Hindoo traffickers. We find (see _Decline and
Fall_, chapter 37) that Anthony, an Egyptian, and unable to write in
Greek, living in the lower parts of Thebais, distributed his patrimony,
deserted his family and native home, lived amongst tombs, or in a ruined
tower, then in the desert, and then in some lonely spot, near the Red
Sea, where he found shade and water. It certainly seems clear that he
took the son of Maya, rather than the child of Mary, as his exemplar.
At and after this time, the rage for asceticism spread amongst the
inhabitants of Eastern Africa as conspicuously as it had done in
Oriental Asia at the time of Asoka. It is difficult to read the chapter
of Gibbon's history to which we refer, and a history of Buddhism,
without regarding Egypt, and her miserable ascetics, in the same light
as we look upon the folks of Hindustan and Thibet. If Jesus of Nazareth
had dictated such a life, surely his early followers would have been
more conspicuous in their habitual mortifications than their later
disciples were. The son of man--the child of Mary--"came eating and
drinking," and was called "a gluttonous man and a wine bibber, a friend
of publicans and sinners" (Luke vii. 34; Matt, xi. 19). Not so the
son of Maya. The Apostles of Jesus had power to lead about a wife or a
sister, and they did so. Neither Paul nor Peter shunned woman's society,
nor did they practise poverty; nay, they worked with their own hands,
lest they should have to live on alms (2 Thess. iii. 8), and they
collected money for poor saints from the wealthier brethren. There was
no asceticism here, nor can we find, in any part of the New Testament, a
text upon which a system of austerity can be founded.

We might, perhaps, think comparatively little of the parallel which we
have drawn between Buddhism, and Christianity, did we not recognize the
fact, that almost everyone of the later developments of the latter had,
for centuries before, found a place in the former, even including, as we
have mentioned, the dogma of the immaculate conception.

To the preceding considerations we may add another, which, as Ivanhoe
said of himself, "is of lesser renown and lower rank, and assumed into
the honourable company less to aid their enterprise than to make up
their number." Standing alone it may have small power, but as a link
in a chain it is important. We refer to the abundant testimony which
we possess of the strength of Grecian influence upon the tenets of
Christianity. Without laying any stress upon the fact that the whole
of the New Testament extant is written in Greek, we may advert to the
current belief amongst thoughtful scholars, that the so-called Gospel of
St. John was written by some Alexandrian Greek about 150 A.D., or by one
who was imbued with the philosophy of Plato. Sharpe has distinctly shown
that the doctrine of the trinity was held in Ancient Egypt, and first
adopted, then promulgated, by the Egyptian or Alexandrian divines. The
influence of Greek ideas upon Philo Judæus is very conspicuous.

We may now turn our attention to one statement about the Athenians,
viz., "that they and the strangers which were there spent their time
in nothing else than to tell and to hear some new thing," and that they
were so particular--in this respect resembling the Ancient Peruvians--in
adopting foreign gods, that they had an altar to the Unknown Deity (Acts
xvii). To this we must add what Sozomen says of them (_Ecclesiastical
History_, book ii. chap. 24)--that the most celebrated philosophers
amongst the Greeks took pleasure in exploring unknown cities and
regions. Plato, the friend of Socrates, dwelt for a time amongst the
Egyptians, in order to acquaint himself with their manners and customs.
He likewise sailed to Sicily, to examine its craters.... These craters
were likewise explored by Empedocles. Democritus of Coos relates that he
visited many cities, and countries, and nations, and that eighty years
of his life were spent in travelling in foreign lands. Besides these
philosophers, thousands of wise men amongst the Greeks, ancient and
modern, habituated themselves to travel. Solon, it is well known,
travelled to the court of Croesus, and it is affirmed that Pythagoras
visited India. Sozomen makes the above statement to explain how it was
that Merope of Tyre, with two young relatives, visited India, the two
latter becoming its first two bishops.

Nothing is more probable than that Greeks, who had resided for a time
in India, on their return, believing that as they had recognized
in Hindostan an earnest form of Christianity, differing from the
Alexandrian standard only in a few minor points, thought it right to
introduce into western religion Buddhist practices--first into Egypt,
_via_ Alexandria, and thence into Europe. We certainly cannot prove
that they did it, but there is a very good reason for believing so.
The doctrines of Jesus emanated, we believe, from some early Asokâ's
missionaries; whilst the doctrines of the Alexandrians and the Ascetics,
came from subsequent Buddhists, who placed their stamp on Christianity
once more.

Thus we have been led, by a strict inquiry into every extant testimony
known, to believe that the faith taught by Siddartha, was held for at
least 250--and most probably, 500 years, before our era. Still further,
we have been led to believe, from the extraordinary energy and success
of Buddhist missionaries in the three centuries before Christ--a success
before which all Christian missionary enterprise pales--that emissaries
from Asokâ's colleges of priests, penetrated westward with the Greeks as
far as the eastern shores of the Mediterranean, and forced some devout
Jews to modify their belief. But, though it is probable that the Hindoo
teachers introduced the morality inculcated by Sakya Muni, it seems
certain that they could not induce their Hebrew disciples to abandon
their implicit trust in those writings which they had been induced
to think were absolutely inspired or written by direct command of
the Almighty--consequently, Christianity must be regarded not as pure
Buddhism, but a form of it modified by Jewish traditions. But when those
who embraced the religion of Jesus, had learned to distrust the literal
truth of the Old Testament, and had the certainty that the prophesies
about the immediate destruction of the world were false, they came again
into contact with Buddhist teaching, and were content to forego
Judaism. They did not, however, give up Jesus as the Saviour. Instead of
believing with Sakya, that man suffered for his own sin, they clung to
the legend of Adam and Eve, and affirmed that suffering was introduced
into the whole world by this very original couple. Instead of Nirvana,
their heaven was Ouranos--the sky above them. Instead of an abode where
all the senses were at rest, they adopted the idea of a golden city,
with a river of crystal running through it; brilliant with jewels, and
guarded by gates and walls in which all the good should spend their time
in singing and music. The Christians adopted all the Asceticism, dirt,
and love of vermin, that the disciples of Sakya, and even Siddartha
himself, delighted in--but they nevertheless clung to the idea that the
world was sure to be destroyed, and that Jesus would come again. It
is indeed, difficult to reconcile the belief, that he who washed his
disciples' feet, and praised a woman for cleaning and anointing his own,
sanctioned an idea which, throughout centuries, urged religionists to be
filthy; yet we must do so if we are orthodox. We have, indeed, similar
anomalies now. Devout Christians tell us that this world ought to be
made a preparation for another; and that the main joy of heaven will
be an indefinite increase of knowledge. Yet these same people
affirm, sometimes in distinct terms, that an extension of scientific
attainments, and a constant inquiry into the will of God, as expressed
in the works of His hands, are snares of the Devil, and so to be avoided
by all good people. The Orthodox as a rule believe--though few venture
to affirm it, that Jehovah loves the fools the best, and that ignorance
is godliness.


     Estimation of the Bible. The Dhammapada and Hebrew (sacred)
     books. Certain important dates. Jews were never
     missionaries. Precepts of Buddha. Contrasts. How to overcome
     undesirable thoughts. Knowledge beats prayer. Sunday
     proverbs. New birth. Divines preach brotherly love in the
     pulpit, and provoke hate when out of it. Buddhist precept is
     "do as I do," not "do as I say." The narrow way of the
     Gospel finds an origin in Buddhism. One law broken all law
     broken--a Buddhist maxim. Sakya taught about a future world.
     Parallel passages. Effect of Buddhist and Christian
     teaching. Parallel passages about truth and almsgiving.
     Ignorance a Buddhist vice and a Christian virtue.
     _Suppressio veri, suggestio falsi_ in the pulpit Classes in
     the religious world. Why ignorance is cherished. Ignorance
     often more profitable than knowledge. Examples. Charlatans
     live by the fools. Honest doctors and parsons must be poor.
     Poverty an essential part of Buddhism. Hierarchs are quite
     unnecessary to the enlightened man. Parallel passages again.
     Unphilosophical dicta in Buddhism and Bible. Prosperity not
     a proof of propriety, and misery not always a reward of
     badness. Lions and lambs. Design in creation. Right and
     wrong--do they exist before the Creator. False analogies.
     Persecution a Christian but not a Buddhist practice. Popgun
     thunders from the Vatican. Age not equivalent to wisdom.
     Siddartha did not prophesy, and so made no mistake about
     that which was to follow. More negatives and positives.
     Another contrast No obscene stories in Buddhist as in Jewish
     scriptures--no legend of Lot and his daughters, David and
     Bathsheba, of Onan, Judah and Tamar, Zimri, Cozbi, and
     Phinehas, and a host of others. A good deal of nonsense in
     all ancient writings. The foolish stories and prophecies of
     the Bible--if abstracted, little remains. The little might
     be improved by extracts from Plato, Epictetus, and Buddhist
     scriptures, and even from those of Confucius.

From the earliest times which I can remember, I have heard the English
Bible spoken of with the utmost reverence, as the undoubted word of God,
as a revelation of the will, ways, and even the thoughts of the Supreme
Being. Everything which it contains has been regarded as infallibly
true, and the wisdom, goodness, mercy, and justice of its doctrines
and laws have been judged to be unimpeachable. From the pulpit of many
earnest divines I have heard innumerable sermons whose burden has
been praise of, and admiration for, the morality of the Old and
New Testaments, the sublimity of the language therein used, and the
loftiness of the thoughts embodied. From those same teachers, and from
a still greater number of laymen, I have heard the assertion repeatedly
made that the Bible must be divinely inspired, because no other set of
men, except those who composed its books, could write so powerfully; and
depict so graphically, the wants, the woes, the pleasures, the passions,
the aspirations, and the doubts of the human mind. By a great majority,
if not by the whole of our imperfectly educated ministers and people,
the assertion to which we here refer is raised to the position of an
argument; and any opponent who ventures to question the truth of the
assumption, is challenged to show a book of divinity equal or superior
to the Bible.

The worthlessness of the argument might be readily shown to any one
accustomed to use his reason, by pointing out that the religious books
of the Ancient Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Medea, Persians, and
Etruscans, are lost to us. We may compare the assertion with that which
Englishmen might have made, to the effect that the British breed of
horses was superior to any other, for no one could show them a better;
yet as soon as our Crusaders became acquainted with the Arabian steed,
the value of the assumption was destroyed. Yet such a remark would be
wholly inoperative on the mind of every bigot whose judgment of evidence
is always bribed by his prejudice. Consequently, to make any serious
impression upon the mind of the Bibliolater, it is desirable, if
possible, to make copies of the holy images worshipped by other nations,
under the name of sacred books, and to place these side by side with
that grotesque production, which, for our purposes, may be compared to
Diana of the Ephesians--the thing which fell down from Jupiter.

Yet even when we do bring from distant countries, to which in our
complacency we give the name of "heathen," copies of their deified
books, and show their equality with, or superiority to that which we
are told was arranged by the disposition of angels (Acts vii. 53)--the
scriptures that Paul (2 Tim. iii. 16) affirms were entirely given by
inspiration of God [--Greek--], see also 1 Pet. i. 11, 12,--we are met
by the assertion, if the equality is allowed, that the Pagan writings
have been copied from, or are traceable to, the writers in the Old or in
the New Testament.

Whenever a thoughtless theologian asserts that such a thing _must_ be
so, he is not by any means particular as to the facts upon which he
bases his belief. This weakness of his is so conspicuous to the logical
observer, that he sometimes feels pity at having to wound a mind so
earnest as to be unable to use its reason. He almost regards himself as
a man fighting a child or a weak woman. Yet men will, in their power and
knowledge, deprive a baby of a bon-bon, which it is sucking eagerly, if
they know that it is poisonous, and will lay violent hands upon a tender
girl who, in a whirlwind of passion, is about to throw herself before a
railway train. After the event both the individuals may learn to thank
the roughness which saved them; and I feel sure that many an earnest
religionist, who now thinks that the philosophers are treating him
cruelly, by trying to deprive him of a cherished faith, will ultimately
be grateful for having been induced to cease grovelling in the dust of a
coarse antiquity.

If we endeavour to ascertain the basis of the belief that everything
which is good _must_ have come from the Bible, we find that it exists in
the assertion that the Jews were the chosen people of God, selected by
Him to receive a record of His past doings and His future desires. Hence
it is argued, that all who have not been taught by the Jews, or through
their influence, are without God in the world--poor, benighted pagans.
To support assumptions so monstrous as this, there is not a tittle of
evidence beyond the existence of certain stories in some books, said to
contain a truthful record of facts. But although the theologian heaps up
protestation upon asseveration until the mass attains an imposing size,
the whole is not of more substantial value than a huge bubble blown by
an energetic school boy. If millions could be brought to believe that
such a hollow sphere was a solid, painted with the most resplendent
colours obtained from the celestial mansions, it would not make it other
than a film of soap and water filled with air.

Yet though the unanimous consent of myriads cannot convert foam into a
solid substance, a mass of froth may be treated as if it were something
better, so long as all agree not to test its qualities; and any book
may in like manner be regarded as of divine origin, so long as everybody
determines not to test the reality of the opinion. We can easily imagine
that those who have been educated to believe in the absolute density
of a bubble, must be greatly distressed when it bursts. Indeed in every
mercantile community we see frequent illustrations of this. Designing
men weave a plausible story, and by inflated words induce a number of
thoughtless people to believe their statements, adopt their promises,
and act upon their recommendation. Whilst all seems to be prosperous,
every dupe repels with indignation the statement that the whole of his
confraternity are deceived. If faith in the stability of a banking house
could have upheld it, Overend & Gurnets would never have broken. If
then faith, the most complete and child-like trust in the truth of
anything,--say particularly in a certain book--will not make it valuable
if it be in reality worthless, then all those who wish to feel beneath
them the everlasting arms of truth, should inquire into current beliefs
rather than take everything for granted.

At the time when the wealth, power, and stability of the Bank above
referred to were implicitly believed in by the many, and especially
trusted by its shareholders, there were, outside of its pale, many
individuals who felt sure that the establishment was very shaky, and a
few who were aware that it was toppling to its fall. If then, at that
time, any customer or proprietor, feeling a doubt about its safety,
should have endeavoured to investigate the rumours which were adverse to
it; and should have acted as reason dictated, after he had weighed the
alleged facts on both sides, he might have came to a safe decision
and saved his money. What is true in this case may be applied to the
Bible--the Bank upon which so many draw large drafts, and in whose
stability they have unbounded confidence. The thoughtless may, and
doubtless will, continue to trust it implicitly--the thoughtful will
probably consult, not only the Bibliolaters, but those who put no faith
whatever in the volume, and judge for themselves.

The fear which many men have of biblical inquiry, has for a long period
struck me as being inexplicable, inasmuch as it is at variance with the
assertion of these very same people, that an examination of the book
must prove it to be infallibly true. But investigation into a supposed
truth can only end by confirming it fully, and thus making the truth
more useful; or by demonstrating that the belief entertained is
untenable. It has been the dread--nay the certainty, of the latter
result, which has deterred many great minds from investigating the
matter. Amongst these the late Professor Faraday was conspicuous, for we
learn from a letter in the Athenaeum of Jan. 7, 1870, written by one of
his own personal friends, that he--perhaps the most accomplished seeker
after physical truth in his time, declined firmly to search into the
value of the commonly received notions respecting "the scriptures," as
he felt sure that his faith in them would thereby be shaken. Yet he was
illogical enough to use them as a basis for his theological teaching.
He preached to others from texts in which he had no confidence; and
supported his doctrines by quotations from a book which, in his secret
heart, he felt was valueless as an exponent of historical truth, or
orthodox teaching.

Before we proceed to the comparison between the "Dhammapada" and the
Bible, it will be judicious to place fairly before the reader the points
which we hope to elucidate. We wish to show, by a collation of dates and
doctrines, that the two are wholly independent of each other, and as we
have elsewhere remarked, that if there has been any relationship between
Buddhist and Christian writings, the first have had more than two
centuries' precedence over the last. We wish to compare the morality
taught by Buddha, with that promulgated in the Old and New Testaments.
We desire impartially to examine into the question, whether the claim
for inspiration can be allowed in either one case or the other, or in
both together--whether, indeed, it is possible to believe the Hebrew
scriptures to be dictated by God, without giving a similar confidence
to the teachings of Sakya Muni--or, assuming that there is to be found a
code of pure morality or ethics which we may suppose to be of universal
application, we shall endeavour to ascertain whether the Hebrews and the
followers of Mary, or the disciples of the son of Maya Deva, have made
the nearest approach to its discovery and establishment. Collaterally
we shall examine whether Jesus has a greater claim than Buddha to be the
Son of God. The Dhammapada which has recently (Trübner & Co., London,
1870*) been translated by Max Mülller from the Pali, is one of the many
books which profess to give, as our Gospels and Epistles do of Christ,
the teachings or precepts of Buddha. These were for some two or three
centuries traditional only; but about the period, B.C. 300, many, if not
most of them, were committed to writing. As far as can be ascertained,
the year b.c. 246 was the period of the first Buddhist council under
Asok, and shortly after this, Mahuida, a priestly son of Asokâ, went as
a missionary to Ceylon; other emissaries went to Burmah, China, Japan,
and it is believed elsewhere. The oral promulgation of the Dhammapada
would probably begin about b.c. 560--twenty years or thereabouts before
the death of Siddartha. If we turn to contemporary history in the west
of Asia, we find that at this period Jerusalem was in ruins, and the
Jews were captives in Babylonia--no copies of any Hebrew sacred book
were known to be in existence (2 Esdras xiv. 21; 2 Maccabees ii.
1-13--see also 1 Maccabees i. 21-23), and, so far as we could
learn, India was a country wholly unknown to the Shemitic race. The
acquaintanceship between Hindustan and Europe seems to have been made in
the time when the Greek monarch, Alexander, overthrew Darius of Persia.
Alexander invaded India about b.c. 327, consequently we infer that there
was no possibility of Buddha being influenced by western notions in b.c.

     * _Buddhaghosa's Parables_, translated from Burmese, by Capt
     T. Rogers; with an introduction, containing Buddha's
     Dhammapada, or "Path of Virtue," by Max Müller.   Trübner &
     Co., London, 1870.

To these considerations we must add the fact that the Jews have
never been, from the earliest to the latest times, a missionary
nation,--indeed, their laws and precepts forced them to be so peculiarly
reserved, that even if they had known about India they would not have
sent their emissaries there, inasmuch as the Mosaic law obliged them to
present themselves at the Temple at Jerusalem thrice a-year, which was
wholly incompatible with distant travel. Moreover, there are many extant
histories to show that intelligent westerns went to India for knowledge
and religion, and never seemed to think of carrying their own faith
thither. The whole course of history points to religion and civilization
coming westerly from India or Central Asia.

The dates above given will clearly show that Sakya Muni could not have
derived his ideas from the teaching of Jesus, or of the Talmudists,
neither of whom were in existence when he flourished. Whatever
similarity, therefore, we find in the doctrines, &c., of the two, cannot
be accounted for by supposing that Christian missionaries carried the
New Testament to India. The reverse is far more probable, as we have
demonstrated in a preceding chapter.

Some inquirers into the history of the sons of Maya Deva and of Mary are
so convinced of the priority of the first, and of the close resemblance
of the incidents in the lives and in the teaching of the two, that
they have found themselves forced, reluctantly, to consider the
question--whether Christianity is not Buddhism altered in some respects
by Judaism. This point having been elsewhere spoken of, we will not
pursue it. But a far more important, and, for many Christians, a more
momentous inquiry, is, whether we can speak of the Son of Mary as the
offspring of Jehovah, and yet affirm that the child of Maya Deva
was nothing but a common man. So deeply have some been moved by this
consideration, that I have positively heard the opinion broached, that
the Indian sage was the very same as he who subsequently was put to
death in Jerusalem. Wild though the allegation is, there is quite as
great an amount of probability in it as in the assertion that Jesus went
and preached unto those spirits which were sometime disobedient, i.e.,
in the time of Noah (1 Pet. iii. 19, 20), and were, consequently, then in
prison, or that Buddha went to his dead mother, and converted her to
his own faith. About supernatural births we shall treat in a succeeding

Without incumbering our pages with all the precepts of the Dhammapada,
we will copy a few in detail to show the reader their style, and then
we will only quote those which are most appropriate to our subject. The
opening paragraphs singularly resemble those in Bacon's _Novum Organon_,
and run thus--"All that we are, is the result of what we have thought:
it is founded on our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil
thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of him who
draws the carriage (lv.)."

2. "All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded
on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts
with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never
leaves him" (lvi. et. seq.).

3. "He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me--hatred in
those who harbour such thoughts will never cease."**

4. "He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me--hatred in
those who do not harbour such thoughts will cease."

5. "For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time; hatred ceases by
love"--this is an old rule.

     * The figures refer to the separate precepts, which are
     given in numerical order.

     ** With this and the following saying we may compare the
     words of the Psalms--"Do not I hate those, O Lord, that hate
     thee? and am I not grieved with those that rise up against
     thee? I hate them with a perfect hatred; I count them mine
     enemies" (Ps. cxxxix. 21, 22). The words of David, said to
     be a man after God's own heart, are equally opposed to the
     law of love, viz., "Thou hast given me the necks of my
     enemies, that I might destroy them that hate me" (2 Sam.
     xxii. 41; Ps. xviii. 40); I shall see my desire on them that
     hate me" (Ps. cxviii. 7). In Deuteronomy we find, moreover,
     that indulgence in hatred is attributed to the Almighty,
     "who repayeth them that hate Him to their face to destroy
     them: He (God) will not be slack to him that hateth Him, he
     will repay him to his face" (chap. vii. 10). Hatred of their
     enemies is, indeed, everywhere encouraged in the Jewish
     Scriptures, called sacred, and the Hebrew Jehovah is
     described as one with whom the power to hate and revenge
     Himself is a favourite luxury.

6. "And some do not know that we must come to an end here; but others
know it, and hence their quarrels cease."

7. "He who lives looking for pleasures only, his senses uncontrolled,
immoderate in his enjoyments, idle and weak, Mara (the Tempter, the
Adversary, or Satan) will certainly overcome him, as the wind throws
down a weak tree."

8. "He who lives without looking for pleasures, his senses well
controlled, in his enjoyments moderate, faithful and strong, Mara will
certainly not overcome him, any more than the wind throws down a rocky

11. "They who imagine truth in untruth, and see untruth in truth, never
arrive at truth, but follow vain desires."

15. "The evildoer mourns in this world, and he mourns in the next, he
mourns in both."....

16. "The virtuous man delights in this world, and he delights in the
next; he delights in both."

We may pause here, and ask ourselves whether, throughout the whole of
the Old Testament, we can find a single passage which so distinctly
points to a future state as does this Buddhistic teaching. Yet
bibliolaters assert that the effusions of Jewish writers were inspired
by God! Mortal men cannot tell what takes place after their bodies have
become dissipated into various chemical compounds; consequently, they
cannot decide, with certainty, which deserves the greater credit for
accuracy--the Dhammapada, or the Hebrew Scriptures; but all those who
believe in the teaching of Jesus are bound to acknowledge that the
Indian sage was inspired by a power superior to that which is said to
have dictated to the Israelite.

How profitably, again, might the following observations be enunciated
from our pulpits, instead of the vapid and superficial divinity, which
disgraces both the utterer and the listener:--

21. "Reflection is the path of immortality, thoughtlessness the path of
death. Those who reflect do not die; those who are thoughtless are as if
dead already."

25. "By rousing himself, by reflection, by restraint and control, the
wise man may make for himself an island, which no flood can overwhelm."

27. "Follow not after vanity, nor after the enjoyment of love and lust.
He who reflects and meditates obtains ample joy"

We dare not affirm that the writer of the first epistle of John was
familiar with the Dhammapada, but his words (chap. ii, v. 15), "Love not
the world, neither the things that are in the world," &c., are as purely
Buddhistic as if he had known the doctrine of the Indian sage.

We doubt whether, in the whole Bible, a parallel passage to the
following can be found:--

36. "Let the wise man guard his thoughts, for they are difficult to
perceive, very artful, and they rush wherever they list: thoughts well
guarded bring happiness."

It is true that in the Psalms, and elsewhere, there is a full
recognition of the power of God to know, and even to punish man for,
bad thoughts, but there is no precept recommending man to cultivate his
mental powers for the pleasure which the task will bring. The following
observation is equally to be commended:--

40. "Knowing that this body is (fragile) like a jar, and making this
thought firm like a fortress, one should attack Mâra (the tempter, or
Satan, the adversary) with the weapon of knowledge, one should watch him
when conquered, and never cease from the fight."

A few moments' consideration here, will show the reader that there is
a fundamental distinction between the theology of the East and West
in reference to the management of "the thoughts of the heart." Jew
and Christian teachers alike encourage their disciples to combat evil
thoughts by prayer and by fasting, but they never once allude to the
value of "knowledge" as a weapon. Yet, of its power, relatively to
supplication, none can have a doubt. It it probable that no man or woman
can attain to adult age without being aware of the intrusion, into their
minds, of thoughts, whose presence greatly distresses the individual,
and the worst of these is, that they take so complete a possession,
as not to be driven away by any simple wrestling with them. In this
emergency the devout Christian has recourse to prayer, which serves to
nail the intruder even more closely to his seat. The philosopher, on
the other hand, turns his mind to think actively upon some other subject
than that which has intruded upon him, and as soon as he has fixed his
attention upon the second, the first immediately withdraws. Smarting,
for example, under a sense of ridicule from some accident which has
happened to himself in a ball-room, or other assembly, a man may retire
to his pillow, yet find thereupon no rest. He sees, every minute, the
merry faces which laughed when he put the sprig of lavender, that his
lovely partner gave him for a keepsake, behind his ear, as if it were
a pen, and grinds his teeth with rage or shame. Yet, if he now betakes
himself to go through the preparations which ought to be made to enable
observers to notice accurately the transit of Venus, and then the means
by which they can approximately ascertain the mean distance of the sun
from the earth, he will find at once a pleasant refuge from his trouble,
and fall asleep whilst extracting a square root. Those young men, and
others, who, like the old saints are said to have done, often suffer
much from what may be called "presumptuous desires of the flesh," will
find the acquisition of knowledge is a powerful agent in subduing
the cravings of lust, and hard thinking curbs our passions far more
effectually than the scourge of the ascetic, or the prayers of the
hermit. Mental activity, although it does not entirely remove it,
does much to repress inordinate desire, and we consequently prefer the
teaching of the son of Maya to that of any son of Abraham.

Of the estimate of a well-regulated mind we have the following:--

42. "Whatever a hater may do to a hater, or an enemy to an enemy, a
wrongly-directed mind will do us greater mischief."

43. "Not a mother, not a father, nor any other relative, will do so much
that a well-directed mind will not do us greater service." To this we
can find no parallel in the Hebrew scriptures.

Some of the following are equal to any of those proverbs attributed to

76. "If you see an intelligent man who tells you where true treasures
are to be found, who shows you what is to be avoided, and who
administers reproofs, follow that wise man: it will be better, not
worse, for those who follow him."

78. "Do not have evildoers for friends, do not have low people; have
virtuous people for friends, have for friends the best of men."

80. "Well-makers lead the water wherever they like, fletchers bend the
arrow, carpenters bend a log of wood, wise people fashion themselves."

81. "As a solid rock is not shaken by the wind, wise people falter not
amidst blame and praise."

94. "The gods even envy him whose senses have been subdued, like horses
well broken in by the driver, who is free from pride and free from

97. "The man who is free from credulity, but knows the uncreated, who
has cut all ties, removed all temptations renounced all desires, he is
the greatest of men." A saying which is almost identical with "He that
is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he that ruleth his
spirit better than he that taketh a city" (Prov. xvi. 32). Those
Christians who believe in works of supererogation, and trust to stores
of merit laid up by certain saints, who have lashed their bodies and
otherwise injured themselves, may read the following opinion with

108. "Whatever a man sacrifices in this world as an offering or as an
oblation for a whole year in order to gain merit, the whole of it is not
worth a quarter; reverence shown to the righteous is better."

Respecting evil, we find the following:--

116. "If a man would hasten towards the good, he should keep his thought
away from evil; if a man does what is good slothfully, his mind delights
in evil."

117. "If a man commits a sin, let him not do it again, let him not
delight in sin; pain is the outcome of evil."

118. "If a man does what is good let him do it again, let him delight in
it; happiness is the outcome of good."

126. "Some people are born again; evil-doers go to Hell, righteous
people go to Heaven; those who are free from all worldly desires enter

It is therefore clear that Jesus of Nazareth did not inaugurate the idea
of a new birth.

In precept 133 we have another sentiment parallel with a passage in
Proverbs: "Do not speak harshly to anybody; those who are spoken to will
answer thee in the same way. Angry speech is painful blows, for blows
will touch thee;" or, as our Bible has it, "A soft answer turneth away
wrath, but grievous words stir up anger" (Prov. xv. 1).

The following is a reproach to a vast number of individuals who are
called Christian preachers, and teach doctrines of brotherly love, but
act as if religious hatred of dissenters of every class were a duty:--

159. "Let each man make himself as he teaches others to be; he who is
well subdued may subdue others; one's own self is difficult to subdue."

166. "Let no one neglect his own duty for the sake of another's,
however great: let a man, after he has discerned his own duty, be always
attentive to his duty."

The following might have served as the original of the epistles of

167. "Do not follow the evil law! Do not live on in thoughtlessness! Do
not follow false doctrine! Be not a friend of the world."

168. 9. "Rouse thyself! do not be idle, follow the law of virtue--do not
follow that of sin. The virtuous lives happily in this world and in the

170, 1, 2, 3, & 4. "Look upon the world as a bubble; the foolish are
immersed in it, but the wise do not cling to it. He who formerly was
reckless, and afterwards became sober, and he whose evil deeds are
covered by good deeds, brighten up this world like the moon when freed
from clouds."

174. "This world is dark--few only can be here; a few only go to heaven
like birds escaped from the net." A statement repeated by Jesus in
different words,--"Strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which
leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt. vii. 14). There
may likewise be a comparison instituted between the following:--

176. "If a man has transgressed one law, and speaks lies and scoffs at
another world, there is no evil he will not do." "Whosoever shall keep
the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (Jas.
ii. 10).

I quote this and the next saying to corroborate the assertion that
Buddha taught the existence of a future world:--

177. "The uncharitable do not go to the world of the gods; fools only do
not praise liberality; a wise man rejoices in liberality, and through
it becomes blessed in the other world."

Compare 1 Tim. vi. 17, 18,19, "Charge them that are rich in this
world.... that they be--ready to distribute, willing to communicate,
laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to
come, that they may lay hold on eternal life."

See again (306), "He who says what is not, goes to hell; he also who,
having done a thing, says I have not done it. After death both are
equal, they are men with evil deeds in the next world."

309. "Four things does a reckless man gain who covets his neighbour's
wife--a bad reputation, an uncomfortable bed--thirdly, punishment, and,
lastly, hell."

310. "There is bad reputation, and the evil way (to hell)."

311. "As a grass blade if badly grasped cuts the arm, badly practised
asceticism leads to hell."

178. "Better than sovereignty over the earth, better than going to
heaven, better than lordship over all worlds, is the reward of the first
step in holiness."

"What is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world and lose his
own soul?" or, "What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matt,
xvi. 26).

It would be difficult to find any doctrine enunciated in the Bible more
simple than the following:--

183. "Not to commit any sin, to do good, and to purify one's mind, that
is the teaching of the Awakened."

184. "The Awakened call patience the highest penance, long-suffering the
highest Nirvana, for he is not an anchorite who strikes others, he is
not an ascetic who insults others."

185. "Not to blame, not to strike, to live restrained under the law,
to be moderate in eating, to sleep and eat alone, and to dwell on the
highest thoughts, this is the teaching of the Awakened."

Equally difficult would it be to find in the Old Testament such precepts

197. "Let us live happily, then, not hating those who hate us; let us
dwell free from hatred among men who hate." "Let us live free from greed
among men who are greedy."

200. "Let us live happily though we can call nothing our own."

204. "Health is the greatest of gifts, contentedness the best riches;
trust is the best of relatives, Nirvana the highest happiness."

The following quotations deserve the close attention of the Christian
inquirer, for they not only contain sentiments almost identically the
same as those found in the New Testament, but they are couched in the
same language, as closely as the circumstances of the case allow. Both
enunciate the opinion that it is injudicious to cultivate or even to
permit the existence of those affections which we have in common with
the lower animals, and that to attain perfection love and hatred must be
trampled under foot. We give the Buddhist teaching priority, as it was
promulgated first:--

210. "Let no man ever look for what is pleasant or what is unpleasant.
Not to see what is pleasant is pain, and it is pain to see what is

211. "Let, therefore, no man love anything; loss of the beloved is evil.
Those who love nothing and hate nothing have no fetters."

212. "From pleasure comes grief, from pleasure comes fear, he who is
free from pleasure knows neither grief nor fear."

213-6. "From affection comes grief and fear, from lust comes grief and
fear, from love comes grief and fear, from greed comes grief and fear."
"He who is free from affection, lust, love, and greed, knows neither
grief nor fear." "He that loveth either father or mother more than me is
not worthy of me, and he that loveth son or daughter better than me is
not worthy of me, and he that taketh not his cross and followeth after
me is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it, and he
that loseth his life for my sake shall find it" (Matt. x. 37-39). "Love
not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love
the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the
world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of
life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world passeth
away and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth for
ever" (1 John ii. 15-17).

"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let
him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whosoever
will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for
my sake shall find it; for what is a man profited if he shall gain the
whole world and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange
for his soul?" (Matt, xvi. 24). See also Mark viii. 34, x. 21, and Luke
ix. 23-25, in the last verse of which the saying is varied by the words
being used "what is a man advantaged if he gain the whole world and lose
himself, or be cast away?" We are by habit more familiar with the style
in which the Grecians wrote, than with that adopted by Sanscrit
authors. But in both sets of writers the main idea is made strikingly
apparent--viz., that to love anybody or anything on earth is prejudicial
to our spiritual welfare, and that to act piously, it is necessary for
the saint to free himself wholly from those instinctive affections which
God has implanted in almost every one of his creatures. It is
strange that any two ministers could have excogitated so monstrous a
proposition, and that both should be called "Divine."

The effect of the teaching of Buddha and of Jesus was to draw many from
their hearth whose duty, in our estimation, was clearly to remain at
home, and endeavour to cherish and support their family. I enter my
strong protest as an Englishman, as well as individual Christian,
against the idea that a man who believes himself a disciple of the son
of Mary must go abroad to teach and preach, or become an ascetic, a
hermit, or a monk, and leave his wife and children to be cared for by
his friends or the parish. I believe most strongly that our affections
are implanted in us by our Maker, just as a mother's love exists alike
in the tigress and the eagle, and that any religion which teaches us
that we must overcome these propensities, is a false one. It is strange,
to say the least of it, that both the son of Maya and of Mary should
have promulgated such a doctrine--i.e., that religion is designed to
make our pleasures less, and our miseries greater. It is perhaps too
much to assert that no other form of faith, besides those which have
sprung from Buddha and from Jesus, possesses such a tenet as that to
which we refer; but we can safely affirm that we do not know of any
in which the natural affections existing between parents and children,
husband and wife, brothers and sisters, have not been cultivated as a
portion of the duties to be fulfilled by the faithful.

It is scarcely necessary to call attention to the resemblance which the
doctrine in question bears to that which was promulgated by the Grecian
"Stoics"; and the similitude is still farther increased by such a
sentence as the following in the Dhammapada:--

221. "Let a man leave anger, let him forsake pride, let him overcome all
bondage! No sufferings befall the man who is not attached to either body
or soul, and who calls nothing his own."

Once more we see a close resemblance between Buddhism and the Bible in

223. "Let a man overcome anger by love, let him overcome evil by good,
let him overcome the greedy by liberality, the liar by truth." "If thine
enemy be hungry give him bread to eat, and if he be thirsty give him
water to drink," (Prov. xxv. 21). But the motive for this recommendation
to the Jews is a vindictive one, for he is told that by so doing he will
heap coals of fire upon his enemy's head, whilst the Lord will take care
to reward the deed to the doer. In the epistle to the Romans this saying
of the Proverbs is endorsed, and to it is added "Be not overcome with
evil, but overcome evil with good" (Rom. xii. 20, 21).

224. "Speak the truth, do not yield to anger; give, if thou art asked,
from the little thou hast--by those steps thou wilt go near the gods."
"Let not mercy and truth forsake thee, bind them about thy neck; write
them upon the table of thine heart; so shalt thou find favour and good
understanding in the sight of God and man" (Prov. iii. 3-4); "Wherefore,
putting away lying, let every man speak the truth with his neighbour"
(Eph. iv. 25). We scarcely can find, in the Old Testament, a strict
parallel with the Buddhist precept, "do not yield to anger," for the
Jewish scriptures, without exception, depict their God as giving way
habitually to wrath, anger, and revenge--e.g., in Ps. vii. 11, we find
it stated that Elohim is angry with the wicked every day. Again, in
Isaiah v. 25, we read, "for all this, God's anger is not turned away,
but his hand is stretched out still;" Job iv. 9, By God's anger they are
consumed; "To pour out upon them my fierce anger," (Zeph. iii. 8). There
are, however, a few passages which inculcate upon men the propriety of
a command over their temper. In Ps. xxxvii. 8, for example, we read,
"Cease from anger, and forsake wrath," and in Proverbs xxvii. 4, "Wrath
is cruel, and anger is outrageous," whilst "the Preacher" says, Eccles.
vii. 9, "Anger resteth in the bosom of fools," and in xi. 10, "remove
anger or sorrow from thy heart." In the Gospel we have a somewhat
divided teaching. For example, we find, from Mark iii. 5, that Jesus
himself indulged in anger, when he was vexed at what he thought the
hardness of his hearers' hearts; and from his saying, in Matt. v. 22,
"Whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause, shall be in danger
of the judgment," it is clear that the son of Mary approved of anger
which had a cause. Again, we find, in Eph. iv. 26, "Be ye angry and sin
not, let not the sun go down upon your wrath," as if anger were not a
culpable weakness, or passion, if only indulged in during the daylight.
Yet, in the thirty-first verse of the same chapter we read, "Let all
bitterness, and wrath, and anger.... be put away from you," and in Col.
iii. 8, the putting away of anger is spoken of as an evidence of being

Of the duty of almsgiving we find much in the Bible, but we will content
ourselves with the following passages:--"Charge them who are rich in
this world that they be ready to give, and glad to distribute, laying up
in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come,
that they may attain eternal life" (1 Tim. vi. 17-19). Quoted from the
Communion Service in the Prayer-book--"To do good, and to distribute,
forget not; for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." "Be merciful
after thy power. If thou hast much, give plenteously; if thou hast
little, do thy diligence gladly to give of that little, for so gatherest
thou thyself a good reward in the day of necessity" (Prayer-book version
of certain precepts in Tobit, chap. iv. 8, 9). If our readers will take
the trouble to consult the entire chapter in Tobit, they will readily
conceive that it was written by a Buddhist sage, instead of an ordinary

Once more we turn to the Dhammapada, and find--

231, 234. "Beware of bodily anger, and control thy body. Leave the sins
of the body, and with thy body practise virtue; control thy tongue;
leave the sins of the tongue, and practise virtue with thy tongue; leave
the sins of the mind, and practise virtue with thy mind."

This reference to the sins of the tongue, and the necessity for its
control, recals to our mind the opinion expressed in the epistle of
James, "If any one bridleth not his tongue, this man's religion is vain"
(chap, i. 26); "The tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity," &c.; "the
tongue can no man tame," &c. (chap. iii. w. 5-10); and the verse, "I
said, I will take heed io my ways, that I sin not with my tongue; I will
keep my mouth with a bridle while the wicked is before me" (Ps. xxxix.

The next maxim to which I would direct attention is one which should be
pondered deeply by all those who desire to become thoroughly civilized.
So far as I know, its like cannot be found in any part of the Bible. It
runs thus--

243. "There is a taint worse than all taints, ignorance is the greatest

If we search our own scriptures for a parallel passage, we can only
find that ignorance is inculcated, and with the express intention
of preventing the mind from departing from the old into some new
track--see, for example, Dent. xii. 30, where the Jews are enjoined not
to inquire after the gods of other nations, lest they should adopt them:
again, in Deut. iv. 19, the Hebrews are enjoined not to study or gain
any information respecting the sun, moon, and stars, lest they should
worship them. But Paul, the apostle of the Gentiles, is even a more
conspicuous advocate of ignorance, when he asserts that God hath chosen
the foolish things [--Greek--] of the world to confound the wise (1
Cor. i. vv. 19-28). "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy
trust, avoiding.... oppositions of science falsely so called, which some
professing have erred concerning the faith" (1 Tim. vi. 20, 21). Many,
indeed, who call themselves civilized Christians, aver that, where
ignorance is bliss 'tis folly to be wise, a tenet held strongly by
Mahometans, Papists, and Ritualists.

That the dictum of Paul in the text last quoted has had a a most
disastrous effect upon civilization, no one who is conversant with
history can fairly deny. Neither can it be shown that any known
religion, except Buddhism, has opposed itself to ignorance. In every
nation the rulers in general, and the priesthood in particular, have,
on the other hand, encouraged indolence of mind, lest the people should
learn wisdom and shake off their thraldom. We have seen, in our own
times, hierarchs of every denomination oppose the spread of science, not
falsely so called, with the avowed intention of endeavouring to bolster
up doctrines, dogmas, and assertions, which they feel sure true
science will destroy, although the same people declare their tenets
indestructible, and founded on truth. Nay, we may go still further, and
assert that sciolism in religious matters is fostered by the clergy of
all denominations, both by the suppression of what they believe to be
genuine, and by the promulgation of what they know to be false. In the
place of knowledge they inculcate blind faith.

As one not wholly unknown to be an earnest and honest inquirer, I
have had extensive correspondence and personal intercourse with many
preachers, and with others whose opportunities for learning "the
clerical mind" are more extensive than my own, and I may divide the
body of religious ministers, and the laity as well, into the following
classes:--1, Those who refuse to inquire, examine, and think about
religious subjects, except in a certain prescribed way; 2, Those who
will investigate into the grounds of their belief, as they would into
any doubtful assertion, or into any science; 3, Those who individually
abandon the old faith and yet continue to preach it, and profess to
adhere to it as strongly as they did at first; 4, Those who venture
timidly to insinuate doubts into the minds of others, whilst professing
to be orthodox themselves; 5, Those who are too noble to be hypocrites,
and boldly affirm that which their advance of knowledge has induced
them to adopt as a belief. Yet these very men, distinguished above
their fellows for earnestness, for science, for honesty of purpose, a
religiously ignorant priesthood persecutes; and Englishmen, who wish to
be regarded as peculiarly "enlightened," stand by almost unmoved, or, as
happens too frequently, applauding.

When we endeavour to ascertain the reason why ignorance is so greatly
cherished amongst mankind, we can readily discover it in indolence on
the part of one group of men, and cupidity on the part of others. There
are many positions in life wherein Sciolism seems to be more profitable
than knowledge. We may mention a few. A "solicitor" who has an imperfect
acquaintance with the law, may induce his clients to bring cases before
various legal courts, in which they are certain to lose their cause and
money, but this solicitor gains large fees for his trouble. A physician
who does not know how to cure certain diseases may yet treat them for
months, pass for a devoted doctor and a clever friend, and receive a
large honorarium, which is far beyond his merit, though the patient may
think it far too small. The man, on the other hand, who can cure such
complaints readily, has to be content with a very slender fee, as his
attendance is only required for a few days. The schemers, who live upon
the ignorance of dupes, bear the name of legion. We see one of the body
as a promoter of all sorts of bubble companies, and as secretary to such
societies as banks, trade unions, burial clubs, assurances, &c. Anon he
takes the form of an adulterator of provisions, of various drinkables,
of cloth, silk, linen, &c. If Sciolism were not common, such charlatans
as "spiritualists," "clairvoyants," "mesmerists," and the like, could
not thrive as they do, nor quacks of all kinds flourish famously. One
medical pretender is indeed reported to have said to a "regular" doctor,
who lived in the same street with him, but whose clients were few
compared with those of the charlatan--"the reason why you have so small,
and I have so large, a number of patients is, that the fools come to me,
the knowing ones to you."

What is true in the case of other professions is preeminently so in the
clerical In religion, such as it is professed in Christendom, Sciolism,
or imperfect knowledge, alone is lucrative. Real understanding, diffused
amongst the people, would render every hierophant a beggar, and thorough
enlightenment amongst the priesthood would force them to allow that
such should be their normal position. For example, if every layman, in
countries owning the spiritual headship of the Pope of Rome, knew that
all the stories of Heaven, Purgatory, Hell, Angels, Saints, Confessors,
Hermits, and the like, were absolutely baseless--if he knew that man has
no power in the court of the Almighty to influence His will in favour
of a congener, and that nothing whatever is known respecting the world
beyond the grave--he would not order masses, whether high or low, and a
host of other ceremonies, each of which has to be paid for. Or, if each
Protestant knew, that every tenet preached to him from the pulpit is
founded upon absolute ignorance of the Almighty's operations, that every
doctrine, every prayer, and every ritual, is based upon fantastic, half
savage, or semicivilized human ideas, he would recognize at once the
total uselessness of the parson. "They that are whole need not
the physician, but they that are sick." The doctor, knowing this,
endeavours, when he has a chance, to induce a client to believe himself
ill, and that he and no other man can cure him--or, if he should really
be disordered, these ideas will be kept up as long as possible. So it is
in "religion," it is only the culprit that wants the Saviour, but when
he has a chance, the _soi disant_ saviour tries to persuade those who
consult him, that they are sinners, yet that he can make them saints;
and having once implanted this belief, he endeavours to sustain it. To
doctors and priests such as we here describe, the ignorant credulity of
their clients is a source of wealth. So long as there are dupes
there will be sharpers, and so long as men are human, there will be,
unconsciously very likely to themselves, abundance of both fools and

From what has been already said, our readers will have probably drawn
the conclusion that we deny the existence of a thoroughly educated
and honest hierarch, who has become wealthy by the exercise of
his profession in a perfectly conscientious manner. Exceptional
circumstances prevent us saying exactly the same of a doctor, but
into these we need not enter, as they have not their counterparts in
divinity. Such being our belief, we recognize the fact that poverty and
knowledge must, in an earnest priesthood, be ever associated. But the
clergy of every denomination are loath to agree to this, and endeavour,
by hook or by crook, to acquire the means of living well.

Hence Buddha, who was thoroughly honest himself, and did not become a
preacher for the sake of emolument or a livelihood, adopted, as part
of his plan, a systematic estrangement from every luxury of whatever
sort,--or, in other words, the adoption of a poverty as great as exists
in the lower animals. He enjoined that the saintly teacher, having food
and raiment of the most homely kind, ought therewith to be content. This
was Paul's view also--see 1 Tim. vi. 8. In this teaching the son of Mary
concurred; like the son of Maya, he "had not where to lay his head," he
had not even such a home as a fox or a bird (Matt, viii. 20), and when
he sent out his disciples to preach, his direction to them was, "Take
nothing for your journey" (Luke ix. 3, see also Matt, vi. 25-28). To sum
up our remarks upon this particular command of Buddha to avoid the
taint of ignorance, we may frame an axiom in political economy,
thus--"Ignorance in the many ensures wealth in a few," or, "A diffusion
of sound knowledge amongst the ruled, reduces the power and the
emoluments of the rulers, and compels them to work hard if they wish to
retain their position." To apply this idea still further, I would add
that a thoroughly educated people, each one of whom feels that he
must "work out his own salvation" (Phil ii. 12), does not require a
priesthood. Consequently hierarchs, whose sole business in this world
seems to be to instil terror into young minds, and to make rules for
them to break, that priests may be paid for showing how the imaginary
results may be escaped, would have no place if men were wise and
thoughtful. It is a curious, though a certain fact, that the depth of
savagery and the height of civilization alike ignore the necessity of a
hierarchy. The first does so because it never thinks of God--the second,
because its conceptions of the Almighty are such that it cannot believe
Him to be influenced by individuals who assume to be His earthly
vicegerents, or are elected to that pretentious situation by their
fellow-men. The God of the Bible can only be adored by individuals whose
minds are not emancipated wholly from the thraldom of barbarism, and
who regard Jehovah as a man, and not a good one either, or, as we have
before remarked--a devil. We may once more extract some sentences for
comparison, to show, either that no inspiration was necessary to pen the
Bible, or that the Dhammapada has equal claims with the Old Testament--

244. "Life is easy to live for a man who is without shame, a crow hero,
a mischief maker, an insulting, bold, and wretched fellow. But life is
hard to live for a modest man, who always looks for what is pure, who is
disinterested, quiet, spotless, and intelligent. O man, know this, that
the unrestrained are in a bad state; take care that greediness and vice
do not bring thee to grief for a long time."

Compare this with the Psalmist's expression--"I was envious at the
foolish when I saw the prosperity of the wicked, for there are no bands
in their death, but their strength is firm; they are not in trouble
as other men, neither are they plagued like other men; therefore pride
compasseth them about as a chain, violence covereth them as a garment,
their eyes stand out with fatness, they have more than heart could
wish.... these are the ungodly who prosper in the world, they increase
in riches.... Surely thou didst set them in slippery places: thou
castedst them down into destruction. How are they brought into
desolation, as in a moment! they are utterly consumed with terrors" (Ps.
lxxiii. 3-19.) "I have seen the wicked in great power, and spreading
himself like a green tree that groweth in his own soil, yet he passed
away, and lo! he was not, yea, I sought him, but he could not be found.
Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright, for the end of that man is
peace. But the transgressors shall be destroyed together, the end of
the wicked shall be cut off." "Fret not thyself because of evil-doers,
neither be thou envious against the workers of iniquity, for they shall
soon be cut down like the grass, and wither as the green herb. Trust in
the Lord and do good, so shalt thou dwell in the land, and, verily, thou
shalt be fed" (Ps. xxxvii. 35-38--1-3). The class of sentiments is the
same in both, only they seem to differ because we are very familiar with
the phraseology of the Bible, and the reverse with translations from the

At this point the philosopher may judiciously pause to inquire, whether
the sentiments expressed in the preceding biblical quotations are not
incorrect, and consequently whether they can be regarded as inspired;
and whether the Buddhistic solution of the difficulty, which points to
a future state, is not superior to the Jewish one which treats of this
world only. Experience abundantly shows that individuals practising what
is called "goodness" find it no safeguard against misery, starvation,
tortures, and death. Jesus of Nazareth, his disciples, and vast numbers
of his followers, have experienced from the dominant party in those
states wherein they dwelled contumely, reproach, and hours of lingering
torment. Louis the XIV. of France, and the New Englanders of America,
alike persecuted "Protestants" and "Quakers." In Spain "the reformers"
were successfully opposed by fire and sword, and Papal Italy once
extirpated from her midst the disciples of Luther and Calvin. Yet the
so-called wrong-doers flourished, and the unfortunate "good people" were
run down or dragooned with a sudden and swift destruction. If the dictum
of the Psalmist is right, then Admiral Coligny, who was killed in
the Bartholomew massacre, at Paris, must have been a bad man put in a
slippery place that he might fall, for his destruction came suddenly, in
an instant. But all history shows him to have been a worthy fellow,
who was punished for his virtues. The observer of nature is driven to
believe that the co-existence of powerful and bad men, with feeble, yet
good men, is a rule in creation for which no adequate explanation can
be found. He sees that in the domain of the air there are hawks and
pigeons, eagles and ostriches, cuckoos and hedge-sparrows, that on the
land there are tigers and sheep, lions and buffaloes, wolves and deer,
that in the water there are perch and minnows, pike and trout, sharks
and whales--in other words, there is throughout the world a division of
living creatures into those who live by destroying vegetables, and those
who subsist by the destruction of animals. The cow, sheep, and deer are
quite as ruthless, in their noxiousness to the ornaments of the meadow,
as are foxes in a hen-roost to the beauties of the barn-door; both alike
mar the graceful features of creation. Yet it is clear that both the
graminivora and the carnivora were made to effect this apparent
wrong. Still further, we see throughout creation, that in almost every
community of animals, the strong ones dominate over the weak, and
endeavour, far too frequently, to deprive them of such pleasures as they
and their females possess. See, for example, a cock with a bevy of hens:
he will allow no other chanticleer to strut besides him on the dunghill
of the yard; he will not permit a rival to make love to anyone of his
harem, nor to feed upon any dainty morsel, until his wives and himself
have had enough. The same may be said of stags, of bulls, of rams, of
horses, and many other creatures whose habits are known. The leader of
a herd is a despot, and when he is at length conquered by another, those
who are ruled have merely changed their masters. Young and weak cocks
will never attain to power, and must ever submit to be bullied.

We notice, at the same time, that each tyrant must in the end succumb;
with age comes infirmity and loss of strength, in the last battle
the old is beaten by the young. Just so it is with mankind; in its
comparative infancy monarchs rule, and are at length deposed by others.
The Babylonians conquered Palestine, the Medes and Persians vanquished
the Babylonians, the Greeks subjugated the Persians, the Romans overcame
the Greeks, and the Goths destroyed the Roman power; yet under every
regime the powerful could torment the weak. The result in every case
was brought about by the conqueror being strong and brutal--not by the
immorality of the victims.

When a philosopher sees such things, he very naturally endeavours to
ascertain whether any design can be discovered in the events of the
world, and to this end he may be diligent in collecting facts, or he
may at once frame some theory, and then cease to think about the matter.
"Oh," such an one may say, "all that is wrong here will be righted in
another world." Another, who ponders more deeply, may doubt whether it
is proper to divide the phenomena of nature into "right" and "wrong."
"If," he will say, "I believe with the Jew that God is in the heavens,
and does whatsoever He pleases" (Ps. cxv. 3), or that "the Lord hath
made all for Himself; yea, even the wicked for the day of evil" (Prov.
xvi. 4) I must allow that everything which emanates from the Creator
must be right. Speaking individually, I prefer rather to examine into
the ways of Providence--i.e., of the Almighty, without framing any
theory of right and wrong, than to dogmatize upon what He _must_ intend
by this or that. "Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord (Jehovah),
or being his counsellor hath taught him?" (Is. xl. 13)--see also the
Pauline version of this sentiment, Rom. xi. 33, 34.

It is very questionable whether any human analogy will enable us,
even approximately, to fathom what are designated "the designs of
Providence." Every example that I can at the present remember given by
theologians is bad. Take, for example, the most common one which draws
a comparison between God and a father, Ps. ciii. 13, "like as a father
piti-eth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him;" Prov.
iii. 12, "Whom the Lord loveth he correcteth, even as a father the
son in whom he delighteth;" Heb. xii. 6, 7, "Whom the Lord loveth
he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." "If ye be
without chastisement, whereof all men (are) partakers, then are ye
bastards and not sons." These enunciate the idea that God, being the
universal father, treats mankind as a judicious parent treats his
offspring, and that as a child cannot at all times know why he is
punished until many years have passed over his head, so human beings
cannot tell, until they reach another world, why they were punished
in this. To assist this assertion the text is quoted "What I do thou
knowest not now, but thou shalt know hereafter" (John xiii. 7.) If there
be any truth in the analogy, it must follow that all who in this world
"endure grief, suffering wrongfully" (1 Pet. ii. 19), are children of
God, whom he is educating for a better world. If that, again, be
so, then--when Christians persecuted Mahometans, Romanists burned
Protestants, and Spaniards slaughtered Mexicans and Peruvians--it
follows that the vanquished, and not the conquerors, were the elect of
the Father. But this deduction directly opposes those promises said to
be made to the Jews by Jehovah, viz., that victory should be the reward
of their piety. As it is a poor system which declares that two opposite
results come from the same cause, we must refuse to believe that both
victory and defeat are proofs of a Father's love. I am quite aware that
some reader may retort that a kind parent may punish one child at the
same time that he rewards another. I grant it at once, but that only
demonstrates, if it proves anything, that all creatures must be regarded
alike as the offspring of the Creator, and that none are favoured
peculiarly on the one hand, or are outcasts on the other.

As it is undesirable to mix political up with religious events, I
refrain from drawing from history such illustrations as have frequently
been supposed to indicate the will of the Almighty. The fall from power
of Egypt, Tyre, Assyria, Babylonia, Persia, Greece, Carthage, Rome,
Spain, are all supposed to have been caused by some special providential
design. In like manner theologians draw certain deductions from the
discovery of the New World, and the slaughter of the majority of its
aboriginal inhabitants; from the Crusades; from the influx of the Turks
into Christendom; and of the Moors into Spain. Some, whose imaginative
powers overwhelm their reasoning faculties, see in the wars of recent
times that final shaking of the nations, which some _soi-disant_ prophet
declares must precede the millennium, and the battle of Armageddon;
vaccinators, and interpreters are as abundant and irrepressible now as
ever they were. Their fundamental assumption is that God has acted as
they would have done in His place. Now He is a sort of Irish landlord, a
portion of whose property is overrun with pauper farmers, and He clears
them away to make room for more sensible and wealthier tenants, as
the Canaanites were removed to give place to the Hebrews. Now, He is
represented as a parent, who hearing that a son has engaged in fight and
been conquered, merely remarks "serves him right!"--the kind of
comfort given to the Jews after they had been harried by the Edomite
confederacy, and subsequently by the Chaldeans. Again, the same mighty
Jehovah is represented as a Stoic, who remarks, when some mischance
happens to those who are said to be his children, "Never mind, accidents
will happen--through much tribulation you must enter into my rest, or
the kingdom of heaven."

I entirely decline to adopt the profession of prophet and interpreter,
contenting myself with increasing what knowledge I may have, rather
than endeavouring to deduce from it theories whose weakness an hour may
demonstrate; nor do I put faith in any one who adopts such a business.

For example, let us assume that two savage tribes, having gods
of different names and shapes, go to war on the bidding of their
priests--one is conquered and the other is victorious. The one
attributes his reverse to the anger of his own deity, not to the power
of the god of his enemy. The other imagines that he owes success to the
influence of his protector and his superiority over his foe's fetish.
A civilized on-looker, who believes that all the deities are devils and
powerless, attributes victory and defeat to perfectly natural causes,
e.g., superiority in weapons, tactics, numbers, or strength. It is
clear that neither the deductions of the first nor second men are right;
neither has read the mind of his fetish. So it is with the half educated
theologians of our own day, who think and talk as glibly of God and
Satan, as if they were personal acquaintances, who make no secret either
of their deeds or their motives of action.

Once more we return to the Dhammapada and find,

248. "O, man, know this, that the unrestrained are in a bad state; take
care that greediness and vice do not bring thee to grief for a long
time." We do not here seek to find any parallel passage in the
bible, but we turn to history, remote and collateral, and compare the
priesthood of Buddha with that of Jesus. Does travel tell us of any set
of teachers more self-denying than the individuals who devote themselves
as religious Buddhists? Can history, on the other hand, tell us of any
hierarchy more greedy and vicious than the Christian priesthood in the
middle ages, and down to a comparatively recent period? We will not
accuse them of vice, but even now is there in the whole world a more
grasping set of men than those who have received what they term "holy
orders" from the descendants of Jesus or of Peter? I trow not. If,
therefore, a doctrine is to be known by its fruits, in one respect at
least Buddhism is superior to that which we call Christianity, by which
term I do not mean the exceptional practice of a few, but the general
habits of the majority of the bishops, priests, &c., of Christendom.
Once more let us contrast the doctrine of Buddha with the practice of
Christians. He says--

Da. 256, 7. "A man is not a just judge if he carries a matter by
violence; no, he who distinguishes both right and wrong, who is learned,
and leads others, not by violence, but by law and equity, he who is a
guardian of the law and equity, he who is a guardian of the law, and
intelligent, he is called just." Our histories tell us of Christians
persecuting Christians; Trinitarians endeavouring to extirpate Arians;
Franciscans torturing Dominicans; of Jews slaughtered by those
whose master said, "Father, forgive them;" we see brutal Spaniards
exterminating, under the shadow of the cross, whole nations in the new
world who had never harmed them, and in the old world we find Crusaders,
under the guise of piety, murdering and robbing the dwellers in
Palestine. There is scarcely a large town in Europe which has not
witnessed the ferocious violence of Papal, yea, and Protestant,
hierarchs. Even in recent times we have seen bishops and their
congeners, in our so-called civilized nation, oppose violence, and
the popgun thunder of excommunication, to a learned prelate, and to an
humble priest. Judged by the standard of Buddha, our divines are unjust
and unrighteous. I cannot discover any standard by which they can be
regarded as "praiseworthy," except that embodied in the two sayings,
"Get what you can, and what you get hold;" "Where ignorance is bliss,
'tis folly to be wise." We may say of such persecutors, in the words of
the Dhammapada--

260. "A man is not an elder because his head is grey; his age may be
ripe, but he is called old in vain," and many would at once be able, if
they tried, to remember the names of some who, in a Christian community,
have abandoned their principles, or their learning, as soon as they
became bishops or elders of the church. I have no doubt Popes have done
so. There is a saying, that however clever a man is, you make a fool of
him by placing a mitre upon his head.

The following is, perhaps, more curious than our previous quotations, as
it tells of the pre-Christian antiquity of a common Romish custom:--

264. "Not by tonsure does an undisciplined man, who speaks falsehood,
become a Sramana; can a man be a Sra-mana who is still held captive
by desire and greediness?" The Sramana is a word equivalent to our
"priest," literally, "a man who performs hard penances" (see Dhammapada,
Note 265, p. cxxxii.).

Without copying any other texts from the Dhammapada, we may next inquire
what there is to be found in the Bible that is not to be found in the
teaching of Buddha. We notice that the element of so-called prophecy is
wholly wanting in the sayings of the Indian sage. I cannot remember that
either Sakya Muni or any of his followers assumed the power to foretell
the future. There is, it is true, a vague threat of future misery to the
wicked, which was founded upon the prevalent idea of metempsychosis; but
there is no endeavour to pourtray the occurrences that are supposed to
be impending over one or more sections of the human race. There is not
any attempt to induce individuals to join themselves to the son of Maya,
by declarations that the world, and all that it contains, is about to be
destroyed, and that all who do not become disciples of the teacher,
and shelter themselves under his mantle, will be miserably punished
throughout eternity.

There is not any Buddhist description in detail, either of Hell, or
Heaven, or Nirvana; there is no story of "worms," "fires," "devils,"
"death," and the like, in the first. The second is not depicted, by
the preacher himself, as a sort of palace, made gorgeous with gold and
precious stones, resounding in barbaric music, and discordant chants,
where animals dwell, and where horses are kept stabled, to go throughout
the world with messengers upon their backs (see Zechariah i. 8, 10;
vi. 2, 7; Rev. iv. 6, 7; vi. 2, 4, 8). There are no denunciations of
vengeance upon heretics, nor is the god of Buddha like the one described
by Hebrew writers, who "winks" during times of ignorance upon earth
(Acts xvii. 30), who requires to be reminded by prayer of the wants of
men (Exod. iii. 7), and who comes down to earth to inquire if matters
are according to the accounts which have reached his dwelling-place
(Gen. xviii. 21).

In Siddartha's teaching there is, as we have seen, an absence of the
element of prayer. According to his view, each man is regarded, to a
certain extent, as the author of his own destiny. Man, in his opinion,
must ever be influenced by the actions of other men--he may, for example
either be caressed or tormented, yet, under both circumstances, he
is instructed to retain equanimity of mind. He is not to pray for
prosperity, nor to supplicate that trials may be removed. He is to face
and overcome every trial by his resolute will, and not to waste time in
praying not to be led into temptation.

Again, in Buddha's writings, and in those of his followers, there is an
absence of those obscene tales with which the Old Testament abounds. We
seek in vain for counterparts of the story of Lot and his daughters, of
Onan, of Joseph and the wife of Potiphar, of Judah and Tamar, David and
Bathsheba, Amnon and his sister, Zimri Cozbi and Phinehas, and the
like. It is true, that in some Buddhist writings, there is a cosmogony
introduced more preposterous than that in the Bible; but there are no
parallels to the tales of Noah, of Moses, and of Israel in Egypt, the
desert, and Palestine. Indeed, when we remember that Sakya Muni was
an Oriental, accustomed to inflated language, we are struck by the
plainness of his speech.

If we now ask ourselves, as earnest practical Christians--that is, as
men, anxious and eager to attain to religious truth, and desirous of
teaching only those things which would tend towards sound edification
and to a pure morality--what parts of the Bible most offend sense of
propriety, we should answer, that they are its untenable cosmogony; its
preposterous accounts of the longevity of the men reported as being the
earliest formed; the legend of the flood; the origin of the rainbow;
the tales of Moses, Pharaoh, the plagues of Egypt, the sojourn in the
desert, the capture of Canaan, the miraculous battles, in which each man
of Israel put a thousand enemies to flight. We would wholly expunge
the fabulous account of Elijah and Elisha; the ravings after vengeance
uttered by the prophets; the apocryphal episodes described in the books
of Jonah and Daniel, every obscene story, and disgusting speech and
writing, whether uttered as a threat against Israel or his enemies.
In like manner we would wish to expunge, from the teaching of
Jesus, everything relating to the immediate destruction of the
world--everything connected with community of goods, the advantages of
beggary, and the potency of faith and prayer. We would suppress every
miracle, and say nothing of a resurrection of the dead Jesus. We
would equally abandon any attempt to describe Heaven or Hell, or any
intermediate state.

When all these were removed from the Bible, we positively should have
very little left, except a certain amount of morality which is sound,
and a large portion which is radically bad. To make such an emendated
book as perfect as possible, we might, with great advantage, correct
it from the teaching of Buddha or from the sayings of Socrates, Plato,
Epic-tetus, and even of Confucius; and when all was completed, it would
be found that all men, everywhere, have had instinctive notions, more
or less definite, of morality, but have allowed their animal passions
to overcome their better feelings. Far too many of us know the good, but
yet the bad pursue.

This investigation would most distinctly disprove the assertion, that
God has selected a very small percentage of His creatures for objects
of His care, and those who have charity towards all men would greatly
rejoice thereat. Individually we cannot bear to eat, however hungry
we may be, whilst we see others near us without food--our pleasure is
heightened when we divide our luxuries with others; just so we believe
it should be in religion--none should rejoice at the idea that he is one
of the few that are to be saved, nor should anyone repine, as Jonah did,
when he finds that the tender mercies of God are over all his works.

To simplify the matter as far as possible, I have drawn up the following
parallel between Buddhism and Christianity:--

[Illustration: 263]

[Illustration: 264]

[Illustration: 265]

[Illustration: 266]

[Illustration: 267]

In the next chapter I propose to examine, as far as authorities will
permit, the religion of the Persians--a nation intervening, to a great
degree, between the old Aryan and the Shemitic races.


The Medo-Persians and Parsees. Artfulness of theologians. They
systematically break the ninth commandment. Frauds in orthodoxy. A man
may use false weights innocently, but is punished, nevertheless. In
theology ignorance does not justify deceit. Case in trade. Professional
blindness. A law for punishing adulteration of truth is wanted. Mosaism
and Zoroaster. Parsees and Christians. Moses and Zoroaster. The ancient
magi. The Persians. Conflicting ideas of God in Bible. The source of the
Biblical theology. Cyrus. Inquiry into the authenticity of the Avesta.
The book condemned. Account of the Medo-Persian faith from Herodotus.
Period of introduction of the Devil to the Bible. Summary. Comparison
and contrast. Introduction to next chapter.

In every ancient, and, indeed, in every modern, faith which I have
yet examined, I have been shocked with the manner in which it has been
represented by interested opponents. Whether they are Romanists or
Protestants, Evangelicals or Ritualists, Orthodox or Non-conformists,
all our divines endeavour to prove their own tenets to be the best, by
blazoning everything which is good, and veiling from sight everything
which is doubtful. This being so, it is not at all surprising that
Christians generally should try to exalt the religion professed
by themselves over that propounded by others, whom they designate
"heathens." But though it is not strange that very human partisans
should act thus, it is marvellous to find that all the ardent disciples
of Jesus, without an exception, that I know of, should, in their
dealings with mankind, systematically break the ninth of those
commandments which they assert were given by God to man, upon Mount
Sinai All of them bear false witness against their neighbour, and give
incorrect accounts of themselves in addition. They resemble, indeed,
those Dutch merchants whom Washington Irving describes, so pleasantly,
in his history of New York, who had two sets of weights, a heavy lot by
which to purchase, and a light set by which to sell Such traders we call
"fraudulent;" and I assert that every so-called orthodox polemic whose
books I have read deserves the same epithet. Their fraud is shown by the
misrepresentations that they make, both of the creed which they uphold
and the one which they oppose. The heterodox and the so-called atheist
may be trusted, at least, to tell the truth.

In saying this, I do not assert that everyone gives false witness
knowingly, any more than I would blame a tradesman for using false
scales, or weights, if he could demonstrate that he had purchased them
as true, and could show that he had never tampered with them. Yet the
law would punish such a man for their use, arguing that he ought to
have made inquiry. In one of the large towns of Great Britain, on one
occasion, a merchant, believed to be both religious and honest, sold to
a broker a cargo of stuff which had no existence, and, when the delivery
had to be made, the first destroyed himself, and the second was adjudged
to be a culpable bankrupt, because he had taken the existence of the oil
for granted, without investigation. Just so it is with ordinary divines;
they assume certain statements in their own religious book to be
true--they are taught to shut their eyes to the absurdities in the same
volume, and to explain away, in one manner or another, everything which
militates against common sense. By this plan they contrive to sell,
as sterling stuff, something which is made of base material, without
knowingly being parties to a fraud. In the same way a shopman may, on
the word of the manufacturer, dispose of a piece of goods as wholly
silk, although he has a shrewd presumption that the fabric contains a
large proportion of cotton. For such individuals we have the proverb,
"there are none so blind as those who will not see." But these very
theologians of whom we are speaking, when they are dealing with the
sacred books, ordinary customs, ritual, and the like, of other
people, having a different religion to their own, are exact, in the
extreme--every absurdity is exhibited ruthlessly; every legend is
ridiculed; every discrepancy is magnified; and everything which betrays
ignorance, or want of scientific knowledge, is paraded with inglorious
ceremony. On the other hand, everything good which is to be found
therein is, if possible, suppressed. A book, which was, for a long time,
a standard one amongst our divines, entitled, _Christ and Many Masters_,
is particularly open to this charge. In it there is throughout a
_suppressio veri_, a _suggestio falsi_, and scarcely a page that
does not bear false witness. If there were a law to punish those who
adulterate or falsify "truth," our magistrates would be kept extremely

As an inquiry into the realities of Buddhism has led us to the belief
that the origin of Christianity may be found in the doctrines of the
son of Maya, which were adopted with certain Judaic modifications by the
sons of Elizabeth and Mary--so it is highly probable that what is called
Mosaism has been built upon the teachings of the Persian or Median
theology, said to have been founded by Zoroaster. Perhaps it would
be difficult to find any modern evidence of the likelihood of this
hypothesis more powerful than the fact that at the present day the Jews
and the Parsees fraternize almost like brothers. The latter in England,
and, I understand, elsewhere, select, when they can, the house of a
Hebrew wherein to lodge, rather than that of any man of another nation.
To this testimony, such as it is, we must add another which is very
telling, viz., that almost every modern orthodox writer who has
treated of Zoroaster, has declared that the prophet of Persia drew his
inspiration from the lawgiver of Israel The priority of the latter being
asserted, and the second place having been given to the former, the
matter was supposed to be proved, and the Persian, after having been
regarded as a copy of the Hebrew, was consigned to oblivion.

There can be little doubt, however, that the teachings of Zoroaster had
more life in them than those either of the Jew or the Christian, for
the Parsee always and even to the present day, and in every position of
life, may lay claim to the title of nature's gentleman, which very
few of the disciples of Jesus or of Moses could pretend to until very
recently. The morality of these religionists is excellent. In every
relation of life they endeavour to be, to do, and to think that which is
right--and though there may be black sheep amongst them, the proportion
of these to the main body is small In no period of their history, so
far as I can learn it, have the Zoroastrians been as brutal as the
Christians were so long as they had the power--nor have they ever
introduced into their worship figures of men, women, or children with
the apparent intention of honouring or adoring them, or the assertion
that such things assisted their devotions. Being strictly monotheists,
they have not split up the Godhead into three males influenced by
a female who is the spouse of one and mother of a second; nor have
asserted that the one great Creator is compounded of a father, a
son, and a pigeon, with a woman for an intercessor with her celestial
consort. Nor do the Parsees build vast temples for the Almighty to
dwell in, neither do they reduce any portion of the Omnipotent to the
necessity of residing in a bit of bread shut up for many a long day in
a box. On the contrary, the modern followers of Zoroaster worship "the
father" in spirit and in truth--not with eye service as men-pleasers,
but with singleness of heart, fearing God (Col. iii. 22.), thus being, as
we are told, the very men whom the Almighty seeketh (John iv. 23, 24).

The first resemblance between the Persian and the Jewish lawgiver to
which we would call attention, is the mythical nature of both. The
Hebrew who believes in Moses can show no other ground for his faith
than a number of books which tell of Moses, his genealogy, his acts,
his laws, his character, and his death. Yet when an independent inquirer
subjects these books, and the accounts which they contain, to a rigid
examination, he finds evidence that the writings are fabrications of a
period at least a full thousand years after the era of their supposed
epoch--probably more; and that all collateral testimony and all internal
evidence drawn from the books themselves disprove the actual existence
of Moses. To the scholar, the Hebrew lawgiver is as apocryphal or
fictitious a being as Hercules, Romulus, and our own king Arthur. Nor is
this belief of the critic shaken when he finds that the history of Moses
is interwoven with miraculous legends--credit them he cannot; but he may
pause before he determines to see in them evidence of fabrication. He
cannot fairly deny the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, because many
marvellous stories were told of him, nor would a similar cause alone
lead him to assert that Francis of Assisi was a mythical individual.
But whichever way the careful philosophical inquirer may decide the
questions at issue, he will remember that many strange stories are told
of the conception, birth, and life of Zoroaster, and that the critic
must mete out equal justice, both to the Jew and to the Persian. Again,
impartial inquirers find themselves unable to determine, with anything
approaching to accuracy, either by internal evidence or contemporary
remains--the positive epoch when the tale about Moses was originated. It
is true that the Bible seems to afford foundation for a chronology in
a few parts, as, for example, in the historical books; but these are
so completely contradicted by genealogies in other parts that we cannot
trust them. After stripping away every doubtful scrap from Jewish
history, all we can find is, that Moses was first talked of, familiarly,
after what maybe called the Grecian Captivity of Jerusalem (see
_Obadiah, Ancient Faiths, &c._t Vol. ii.), and that he was said to
be the author of the ceremonial, moral, and political laws which were
framed for the Jewish nation, and which were assiduously taught to the
Hebrews after the Babylonish captivity.

The followers of Zoroaster are equally ignorant of the real history of
their prophet, and are equally unable to demonstrate the claim of the
Zend Avesta to be a true account of the teaching of the Persian sage, as
are the Jews to prove the antiquity of their laws and nation. Putting
on one side all those which may be regarded as modern fancies, the first
mention made of the Prophet is in the first Alcibiades of Plato, which
we may imagine was written shortly after B.c. 412, in which year that
distinguished Greek citizen negociated a treaty between Athens and
Persia. Plato, when speaking of the education of the sons of the kings
of Persia, says (_Bohn's_ edition, Vol. iv., p. 344), "At fourteen years
of age, they who are called the royal preceptors, take the boy under
their care. Now these are chosen out from those who are deemed most
excellent of the Persians, men in the prime of life, four in number,
excelling (severally) in wisdom, justice, temperance, and fortitude.
The first of these instructs the youth in the learning of the Magi,
according to Zoroaster, the son of Oromazes--now by this learning
is meant the worship of the gods--and likewise in the art of kingly
government." But Herodotus, writing about B.c. 450, when giving, in Book
i, c. 131, an account of the religion of the Persians, makes not only
no mention of Zoroaster, but attributes to that nation a form of worship
differing from what is supposed to be pure Zoroastrianism;* but he
mentions--and it seems to be a significant fact, that it is not lawful
for a Persian to sacrifice unless one of the Magi is present, who
sings an ode concerning the original of the gods which, they say, is an

     * There is strong constructive evidence, from the nature of
     the Aryan Mythology, from the pages of the Vedas, from the
     anthropological resemblances between Persians, Caucasians,
     Greeks, Latins, Germans, British, and others; from the
     linguistic alliances between what have been called the Indo-
     Germanic races; and from a variety of other sources, each
     small in itself, but strong in the aggregate, for the belief
     that the origin of the Aryan mythology, or the Vedic
     religion as it is otherwise called, may be traced to Bactria
     or to Ancient Persia. Persia is spoken of by Plato as if her
     people carried the dynasties of their kings far back into
     eternity. (First Alcibiades, Bohn's edition, vol. iv., p.
     343). Herodotus again (Book i., c. 131) tells us that the
     Persians from the earliest times have sacrificed to the sun
     and moon, to the earth, fire, water, and the winds, that
     they sacrifice on high places, have no divine statues, nor
     do they build temples. Now this is almost entirely a
     description of the old Aryan religion. The sun, for example,
     is Surya, Aryama, Mitra, Vivaswat, Martunda, Savitor, Sura,
     Ravi, Varuna, Indra Yama, Vishnu, and Krishna (Moor's Hindoo
     Paillhcon, p. 287). The moon is Chandra and Soma, and the
     origin of these words is to be found in the Persian as well
     as in the Sanscrit writings (Moor's H. P., p. 284-5). The
     Earth is Prit'hivi, 11a, Lakshmi, and Vasta. Fire is the
     powerful Agni. The water is Nara, or Narayana (Moor's JET.
     P., 74), from which all things came (see Water in Ancient
     Faiths), and the Winds are Maruts and Vaya. To these
     deities, individually or collectively, the modern Hindoo
     offers prayer and praise; and the hymns of the Rig Veda,
     such as we have them edited by Max Muller and Wilson, are
     copies probably of the same chants which accompanied the
     sacrifices of the Ancient Persians.

This seems to indicate that the Persian religion was then undergoing
some supervision by rulers who had a different faith to that held at a
later period. When we next turn to Herodotus, Book L, c. 101, we find
that the Magi were one of the six tribes which composed the Medes;
and we notice that Phraortes, the son of Deioces, reduced the Persian
kingdom under the dominion of the Medes about B.c. 650. If, then, we
regard Zoroaster as being the founder of the Magi, we must throw back
his epoch considerably further than this date. But even if we accept
this conquest as the era of the Parsee prophet, we find that Zoroaster
preceded the first public promulgation of the Mosaic law amongst the

     * Time of Zoroaster.--Dr. Hang, who is no mean authority in
     everything which concerns Zoroastrianism, states in an able
     resumê of the evidence, that we cannot assign a later date
     to the prophet than 2300 years before Christ. He quotes from
     Diogenes Laertius who affirms that Xanthos of Lydia, b.c.
     600-450, states, that Zoroaster lived 6000 years before
     Xerxes invaded Greece; from Pliny who, on the authority of
     Aristotle, says that the teacher preceded Plato by 6000
     years; from Hermippus of Smyrna, who studied Magism B.c.
     250, and averred that the founder of that sect lived 5000
     years before the Trojan war; and from Pliny, to show the
     general belief of ancient Greek authors that Zoroaster lived
     many thousand years before Moses. Dr. Haug says (I am
     quoting from "A Lecture on an Original Speech of Zoroaster,
     with Remarks on his Age, by Dr Haug" London: Triibner & Co.,
     1865), that the traditional books of the Parsees say
     Zerdosht (another form of the more familiar Greek name)
     lived 300 years before Alexander invaded Persia. Our author
     adds that Hermippus, in 250 b.c., speaks of two millions of
     verses of Zoroastrian origin, and infers that these would
     require 1000 years for their growth. He then points out the
     relationship between the Iranian and the Yedic religion, and
     Zoroaster's antagonism to the latter, and argues that this
     must have happened ere the Aryans invaded the Punjaub, 2000
     years B.c. Dr. Haug then inquires into the probable source
     whence the Greeks drew their ideas respecting the antiquity
     of Zerdosht, and argues, with great show of reason, that
     they consulted the chronology of the Babylonian priests. He
     shows that a trustworthy record was kept which went back to
     2284 b.c., this he concludes, from data given by Berosus,
     was the year when Babylon was conquered by the Medes;--and
     from Synkellos he shows that the founder of the dynasty of
     the eight Median tyrants over Babylon was called Zoroaster.
     But this word, Zarathustra, in the original, signifies a
     high priest, and to distinguish him from other hierarchs
     the prophet is called Zarathustra Spitama, in the Zend
     Avesta--hence this king is supposed not to be the prophet
     him» self, but a descendant from him, and a priest in the
     order which was founded by the original Zerdosht. This again
     points to the fact that the Babylonians could only know
     anything about the founder of Magism from the Medes
     themselves, and they might, from want of any accurate
     chronology, assign to Zoroaster any date they liked--just
     as, with many a semi-civilized nation 'a long time may be
     converted into ten, a hundred, a thousand, or a million
     years.' Haug does not endeavour to assign any particular
     date to the era of Zoroaster beyond expressing the opinion
     that he might have lived one or two hundred years before the
     Median conquest of Babylon, and that this occurrence was
     probably one of the results of the ferment which his
     doctrines caused. "He preached, like Moses, war and
     destruction to all idolaters and wicked men, and said that
     he was commissioned by God to spread the religion of Ahura
     Mazda. Daring his life-time, and shortly after his death,
     his followers seem to have engaged in incessant wars with
     their religious antagonists, the Vedic Indians, which
     struggle is well known in the Sanscrit writings as that
     between the Asuras (Ahura) and Devas (the Hindu gods). But
     afterwards they spread westward and invaded the countries of
     other idol worshippers in order to uproot idolatry, and
     establish everywhere the good Mazdayan religion. They really
     appear to have changed the order of things in Babylon when
     they conquered it, and spread a new creed, for they are
     spoken of by Berosus as tyrants." Zoroaster was the first
     prophet of truth who appeared in the world, and kindled a
     fire which thousands of years could not entirely

When Moses was first talked about we know not, but at the time of
Samuel, David, and Josiah he was unknown. We have no reason to believe
that the Hebrews ever came into contact with, or ever heard of the
Persians, until after the Babylonish conquest, followed by that of
Cyrus; consequently, if the Jewish law first propounded contained
nothing akin to the doctrines and laws of Zoroaster, and subsequent
publications did so, we should naturally conclude that the last were
copied. It is unnecessary to tell the student of biblical history that
the Jews were for many years under the dominion of the Persians and
Medes, and that Nehemiah, one of their great men, after the Babylonian
captivity, was a personal, though humble, friend, of the king of
Persia--i.e., if we take his account of himself for true.

Of the fact of there being two distinct doctrines respecting the
Almighty in the Old Testament no scholar has a doubt. In the one, God
is represented as the sole Being who rules and influences the world:
whatsoever was done He was regarded as the doer of it. He had no
powerful enemy who could thwart His will, no adversary who could
withstand Him successfully. In the other the existence of two rival
powers is distinctly recognised--Jehovah and Satan--the Aryan Mara,
the tempter, who plot and counterplot against each other, and even
condescend to personal wrangling. The most conspicuous example which
we can give of these two doctrines is to be found in 2 Sam. xxiv. 1, in
which we are told that Jehovah moved David to number Israel, whereas
in 1 Chron. xxi. 1, evidently written by a modern scribe, we find that
Satan, the adversary, was he who incited the king to perform this deed.
We see the duality of persons conspicuously put forward in the first and
second chapters of Job, in which Satan is represented as being at large,
not being even under the surveillance of Jehovah. See also 1 Kings xxii.
20-23, wherein we find Jehovah at a loss how to bring about a certain
result, and assisted out of a dilemma by a lying spirit--who can do what
the Lord could not effect! We may say that the story is a fiction, but
no Hebrew dare have spoken thus of Jehovah had he ever heard of Moses
and his laws.

As we cannot imagine that a revelation from God to the Hebrews would be
thus changeable, we can come to no other conclusion than that the Jewish
writings were of human origin, and their first doctrines modified by
those of other nations to whom the Hebrews were subjects or enslaved. To
this consideration we may add, that when the Israelites came in contact
with the Medes and Persians, they were merely a 'posse' of slaves,
a crowd of prisoners removed from their own land without a shadow
of power, or any influence, and only anxious to induce those who had
conquered their late masters, the Babylonians, to have pity on their
misery, and restore them to beggared Jerusalem. The idea of the Hebrews
gaining friends by endeavouring to induce the Persian Magi to change
their faith and embrace that of the poor and probably despised Jew
is preposterous. On the other hand, there would be every possible
inducement for the Hebrews to study the faith of that people whose God
had given them victory over the Chaldeans. See in corroboration of this
Ps. cxxxvii., especially the two last verses.

We may regard the question before us in yet another light, If we are
to allow that the words of Isaiah are correct, which describe Cyrus as
God's shepherd (ch. xliv. 28), and as anointed by Jehovah Himself, we
cannot conceive that the religion which he professed was opposed to
that entertained by the Hebrew prophet. As it is morally impossible
that Cyrus and his hierarchy were taught their religion by any Jew, it
follows that the Persian faith can lay the same claim to inspiration as
the Hebrew, if the latter were not indeed almost identical with it.
If, then, we insist upon the latter being "a true revelation," we must
concede the same to the former, or if we pronounce the Persian religion
to be of human invention, we must pass a similar verdict upon the

When we are upon the horns of such a great dilemma we may well pause.
It is indeed almost impossible for orthodox divines to make a selection
which prong of the fork is the worst. If we elect to say our belief
is, that the primitive teaching of the Hebrew was God-given and a true
revelation, we cannot put faith in those scriptures which tell us of a
devil who fights with Jehovah, and is generally victorious. If, on the
other hand, we hold that the Christian notions of the Creator and Satan
are true, we must regard the Zoroastrian teaching as inspired; and
the early Jewish writings as unworthy of credit--of human invention
and heterodox. Theologians will probably elect to remain in a state of
uncertainty on this subject. Philosophers, on the contrary, will escape
from it at once by asserting their conviction that both the Hebrew and
the Magian religion are wholly of human invention.*

     * When commencing this chapter, it was my intention to
     amplify what I have already said in Vol. II. respecting the
     Magian religion, by giving an analysis of the celebrated
     Zend Avesta, a translation of which into French, by Anquetil
     du Perron, I had recently procured for the purpose.

     As I was aware that Dr Haug, a learned scholar, believed the
     original to be trust-worthy, I read the translation in good
     faith, but I soon began to doubt whether the book was what
     it professed to be, for to my mind it bore internal evidence
     of having been fabricated at a comparatively recent period
     by some one who was familiar both with the Aryan and the
     Mosaic, if not the Christian, doctrines and literature. I
     felt that I should not be acting honestly unless I took such
     steps as lay in my power to satisfy myself upon this point
     The essay was therefore laid aside for a considerable time,
     until, indeed, every available source of information had
     been searched. After my inquiry was over the text was
     resumed as above.

But in the middle, or perhaps we might say upon the threshold of our
inquiry, we must pause to examine into the amount of confidence which
can be given to those under whose guidance we are invited to place
ourselves. Such investigations are too frequently omitted. Those who
have faith in the Bible usually decline to search into the grounds
of their belief, and, in like manner, those who have always heard
the author of the Zend Avesta quoted as trustworthy are apt to take
everything which it may say as correct. To avoid this error, I have
consulted all the volumes of the transactions of the Royal Asiatic
Society of London, and have found therein sufficient to throw the
gravest doubts upon the great antiquity of the Parsee religion. It will
be an useful task if I attempt to classify the evidence on each side,
and to draw an inference therefrom. Our knowledge respecting the
Magian religion which the Bactrian* prophet founded, is built, with the
exception of the notices in Greek and Latin authors, already quoted,
upon the work known as the Avesta. This is written in a language called
Zand,** and there are within it parts, which are written in another
tongue, to which the name of Pahlavi has been given, and from these the
sacred books of the Parsees have been translated into French by Anquetil
du Perron, into German by Spiegel, and into English by Haug. All these
writers assume that the language referred to is Ancient Persian, and
closely allied to the Sanscrit, and Haug especially endeavours to
demonstrate that the Avesta, and the origin of the religion of the
Parsees, must be as old as the time of the Vedas, inasmuch as the same
sort of legends, the same names, and, to a certain extent, the same
genii, are to be found in both. There is not absolute identity, however,
for those which are spoken of as good by the Vedas are treated as bad in
the Avesta. Viewed from this point, Haug assigns to the Zand volumes
an age of about four thousand years, and he supports his belief by a
reference to the length of time which would be required to make up the
two million verses attributed to Zoroaster by some Greek author. In the
conclusion that both the Zand and the Pahlavi are very ancient Persian
tongues, it is stated that the majority of German and French critics

     * Zoroaster is said by many early writers to have been a
     king in Bactria.--Smith's Dictionary, s.v.

     ** The word "Zend" is more familiar to many than the form
     "Zand;" but I have adopted the latter, as also the spelling
     of Pahlavi, from an essay by Mr Romer, with an introduction
     by Professor Wilson, in Vol. IV., Royal Asiatic Society's

But on the other hand, such orientalists as Sir William Jones, Colonel
Vans Kennedy, Mr Thomas, and Mr Romer, and indeed all British oriental
scholars, regard both the Zand and the Pahlavi as bastard languages,
never spoken, and wholly fabricated by a comparatively modern
priesthood, for the express purpose of making the holy books which they
wrote comprehensible only by themselves. Such scholars show that the
Zand and Pahlavi are built upon a Sanscrit, Arabic, and modern Persian
model, and that the Parsee Pahlavi is very different to the Pehlevi of
the Sassanian coins, and, in Vol. IV., Transactions of Royal Asiatic
Society, Mr Romer supports this conclusion by a number of passages in
the various languages referred to. It is also asserted that many words
in the Avesta have been borrowed from the Arabic, and others from the
Sanscrit tongues, possibly, also, from the Greek. Being unable, from my
comparative ignorance of Eastern language, to form a decided opinion on
independent grounds, all that I can say is, that it does really seem to
be proved that the religious books of the Par-sees are not so ancient as
they have been by many supposed to be.

The question which next arises for our consideration is, whether such
volumes represent the tenets of an ancient faith, or whether they
are the fabrication of men who have, possibly in the wreck of an old
worship, brought about by war or other calamity, endeavoured to create a
new religion out of the relics of one or more old ones. In favour of the
antiquity of the Avesta are the facts that the great god, Ahura Mazdao,
seems to be almost identical with the Aura Mazda of the Persepolitan
inscription of Darius. But in proof of its untruthfulness as a
representative of pure Persian tradition, we find the book introducing
Devs and Ahuras,--the counterpart of the Devas and Asuras of the Vedas,
only reversing their character--we also see Indra mentioned as a devil,
whilst Siva and Mitra are introduced as Sharva and Miltra. (Haug's
_Essays on the Parsee_, Bombay, p. 230, 1862). If, therefore, we allow
that there is some of the old Zoroastrian doctrine to be found in the
Avesta, we must equally grant that such teaching has been modified by
hatred of a rival faith. Yet herein is another question, viz., Was
the antagonism between the doctrines of the Avesta and of the Vedas
contemporary with the origin of the two systems, or was the teaching of
the Avesta the result of its author's coming into hostile conflict with
Vedic teachers, as they possibly might have done after Alexander had
opened a highway for intercourse between Persia and Hindostan?

On weighing the subject as impartially as I can, it seems to me that the
Avesta contains a great deal of the Ancient Persian faith, but that it
will be the safest plan for us to describe what is known of the Persian
and Median faith from other sources, rather than take our information
mainly from this doubtful source. Herodotus tells us of his own
knowledge (B. i, c. 131, seq.), that the Persians, about b.c. 450, did
not erect statues, temples, or altars--that they sacrificed on lofty
hills to high heaven, the sun, moon, fire, water, and the winds, and
that this had been a custom from time immemorial Sacrifice was attended
by a priest or magus, and prayer and praise were offered, not for
themselves alone, but for all the Persians, and especially for the king.

In about the year 521 B.c., Darius, king of the Medes, caused be
made, in three languages, upon a rock at Behistun, an inscription of
considerable length. The one which is in the Persian tongue has been
translated by Rawlinson (_Royal Asiatic Society Journal_, vol 10). In
it, the king acknowledges Auramazda as his god, and speaks of him as the
Jews did of Jehovah. This epithet is explained by two Sanscrit roots (Op
cit., vol. x., p. 68), and may be paraphrased as "The Lord or giver of
life," "The great Creator," or "The Eternal," and the king in a doubtful
passage refers to "the evil one" (?), who by lies deceived the rulers
of certain states, inducing them to rebel, and then left them to be
conquered by the Ormazd-governed Darius. In the Babylonian copy "lies"
are as it were personified. Whilst in the Scythian version, translated
by Mr Norris (Op cit. vol. xv., p. 144), we find the account run thus:
"These are the provinces which became rebellious, 'the god of lies'
made them rebel that they would subvert the state, afterwards Ormaza
delivered them into my hand." The "lies," or the god of lies, we very
naturally associate with the being whom we call in our time the devil,
who is spoken of (John viii. 44) as a liar, and the father of falsehood,
who was so from the beginning [--Greek--], and consequently regarded as
coeval with the "father of light."

We next turn to such evidence as is given us in the book of Job. We
select this ancient writing in consequence of the strong internal
evidence there is, that it was written by some one about the period of
the Achaemenian dynasty living in Persia (see Rawlinson in _Journal of
B. A. Soc_., vol. 1, new series, p. 230). In Job we find two distinct
powers spoken of, the one being the Good God, and the other Satan the
opposer. The last is regularly described as if he had the power to cause
war, devastation, tempest, disease, and death, for ch. ii., v. 6, lets
us infer that he might have killed Job had he been so minded and God
allowed the bargain, and in verse 19 of the same chapter we find
him killing all the sons and daughters of the patriarch. Job
clearly recognised the necessity of sacrifice for purification, for
sanctification, and he seems not to have offered this upon any altar, in
any temple, or with the intervention of any priest. It is clear that Job
had never heard of Moses or the writings assigned to him. The persecuted
patriarch and his friends all believe that punishment in this life is
the result of offences committed against the Good God, but all seem
to be singularly free from the idea that Satan is the cause of Job's
sufferings either directly or indirectly. There is throughout the book
no reference made to a preceding or a succeeding condition of man,
such as obtained amongst the Brahmins, and it is doubtful whether the
Persians believed in heaven or hell. When man died he was supposed to
perish. Hence we conclude that the doctrine of the resurrection was not
prevalent at the time the story was written, and in the country where
the writer of the book of Job resided. Equally unknown to that author,
whoever he was, were the ideas about angels, ministers of God, or
disembodied spirits. These were of Babylonian origin. We must now, to
carry on the thread of the argument, recal to mind the fact that Babylon
was taken by the Medes and Persians, that the rulers of the united
people often made that city their residence, that Herodotus tells us
(B. 1, c. 135) that "the Persians are of all nations most ready to adopt
foreign customs," and I may notice, in passing, that the same authority
states that the two nations were scrupulously truthful, ceremoniously
cleanly, and intolerant to leprosy. It is well known, moreover, that
even after the commencement of our era Babylon was the chief seat of
Babbinic and Talmudic lore.

When we examine into the religion of the Babylonians we find that
they believed in the existence of angels--minis-, ters of the
Supreme--intelligences,--unseen by man, yet powerful to act in his
favour, or against him. If we rightly interpret many of the engraved
gems which were executed by the Chaldees, we can only come to the
conclusion that they believed in a Devil, a Typhon, or spirit of

We next must call attention to the fact that the Jews were conquered by
the Babylonians, and enslaved in Mesopotamia for very many years--that
they were subsequently emancipated by the Medo-Persians, and that the
latter, whom from the inscription of Darius we believe to have been
devout, permitted and even encouraged the Israelites to entertain the
faith which they then held, and even assisted them to rebuild their
temple. This permission, and the friendliness of Nehemiah with the
Median monarch, seem to show a great similarity, if not an identity,
between the Persian and the Jewish creeds.

If, then, we could frame any definite idea of the tenets held by the
Jews before they came into contact with the Babylonians, and those which
they professed afterwards, we might form a conception of what they got
from the Chaldees, the Medes, and the Persians respectively. Without
going very deeply into the matter, we may say that Hebrew scholars
generally allow that the ideas of Satan--a power opposed to that of God,
and of angels or spirits, were introduced between the captivity and
the period when the scriptures were translated into Greek, and that the
notion of a future life and the resurrection of the dead, was developed
after the time of the Septuagint, about b.c. 277.

From the preceding considerations we draw the inference that the idea of
the resurrection of the dead, of a future state of existence, in which
each will be punished or rewarded for what had been done by him in his
mortal condition, was not a portion of the original Median, Persian,
Babylonian, or Jewish religion. A mass of circumstantial evidence has
led me to believe that the idea of a Heaven for the good and a
Hell for the bad, came from those who professed what we will call the
Vedic or the Buddhist faith. If, in reply to this, it is alleged that
it may have come from the Greeks directly, the rejoinder is simply
this--that the Grecians, as Aryan colonists, brought with them only
a rude notion of a futurity, which they were the medium of improving,
when, through the influence of their arts and arms, they opened a
highway to India both by sea and land. Those who could import into their
armies such huge beasts as elephants, could far more readily import a
new article of faith, if it pleased the priests.

If our reasoning is sound, we cannot, I think, regard the Avesta as
a trustworthy exposition of the ancient teaching of Zoroaster. On the
other hand, we must, in my opinion, consider it as a book fabricated to
serve a particular purpose. In this respect it resembles our own Bible,
which was composed for the glorification of the Hebrews when smarting
under a series of ignominious defeats and enslavements; and then
enlarged, contracted, or altered, to suit emergencies.

The following table will assist the reader to compare or contrast
the religion of the Medo-Persians with that of the Hebrews in some

[Illustration: 285]

[Illustration: 286]

The Hebrews first worshipped a calf, and then a box; they believed that
their God taught them to build a tabernacle first, then a temple, and
to It is not the practice of the Perform altars for sacrifice. The
Hebrews sians to erect statues, or temples, also believed that Elohim
had one or or altars, and they charge with folly more human forms--see
Gen. xviii. 1, those that do. They do not think 2, and the following
chap. xix. 1--see the gods have human forms, also Gen. xxxii. 1 and
24-80, also Josh. v. 13, 14, 15, Jud. ii. 1-5.

The anthropomorphism of the Jewish Scriptures has already been referred
to in Vol. I. of Ancient Faiths.

The Persians are accustomed to ascend the highest parts of the
mountains, and offer sacrifice to Jupiter, calling the whole circle of
the heavens by that name.

The Persians sacrificed to the son and moon, to the earth, fire, water,
and the winds.

Amongst the Persians, sacrifices were attended by invocations and
prayers, and were always offered up by a priest.

The Persians, next to bravery in battle, considered the greatest proof
of manliness was to be able to exhibit many children.

Whoever has the leprosy or scrofula is not permitted to stay within a
town, nor have communication with other Persians; and it is supposed
that the infliction is caused by some offence against the deity (sun
god). Herodotus, book I., chaps. 131,138.

The eldest son of the Persian king was instructed during youth in the
learning of the Magi according to Zoroaster the son of Oromazes--by this
learning is meant the worship of the gods--and likewise in the art of
kingly government. Plato, in Alcibiades.

The Hebrews sacrificed on high places for a long period. Sacrifice in an
enclosed place seems to have been adopted from the Phoenicians by David
and Solomon, but not to have been popular for some centuries.

The Jewish people sacrificed to sun, moon, and some planets--had a
sacred fire in the temple, and regarded clouds and wind as the ministers
of God. The God that answered by fire was the one adopted by Elyah. The
so-called orthodox Jews only acknowledged one God, and subsequently one

The Jews neither offered invocation nor prayer at their sacrifices, and
prophets and kings offered victims without priestly assistance. In later
times every sacrifice was offered by a priest.

The Hebrews regarded a large family as a gift from Jehovah.

The Hebrews had the same practice; and, as we learn in the book of Job,
and Deuter. xxviii, notably in the 27th verse, they deemed that botch,
scab, itch, and emerods were punishments sent by Jehovah.

The royal families of Judah received no instruction, either in political
matters or in religion, and were allowed to grow up and do much as they
liked in regard to worship. The only power which influenced them was
that assumed by some man who professed to be divinely inspired.

In a chapter of ancient faiths and notice an allegation which has that
Parseeism or Zoroastriamsm has been borrowed from Jews and Christians.
To this we wholly demur. Nowhere in the Avesta do we find a reference to
the imminent destruction of the world, the resurrection of a dead man,
his subjugating all the powers of evil, and reigning for a thousand
years with his followers as kings and saints. Nowhere in the Avesta do
we discover such immoral notions of God as prevailed amongst the ancient
Jewish writers. Take these away from Judaism and Christianity, and
then the two resemble the religions which are held everywhere by the
thoughtful and the good. If there has really been any copying at all,
we do not see the imitators in Central Asia but on the shores of
the Mediterranean. The Jews copied from Tyre, Babylon, and
Greece--Christians have taken as models Egyptians, Grecians, Romans, and
even barbarians, and they have denied a once pure faith by covering it
over with the ordures of heathenism. Yet we talk of others imitating us!

I propose now to examine at some length into such of the developments as
have taken place in certain religious systems, for by so doing we shall
be better able to judge what are those doctrines which Christians hold,
in common with what they call Pagan nations, and how far those matters
which are regarded as fundamental points of doctrine are in reality
trustworthy. We must ever bear in mind that if we find the same set of
ideas entertained amongst peoples who by no possibility can have had any
communication with each other, it is only rational to believe that each
race possesses those notions in virtue of their being human. Or, if
desirous of avoiding this admission, the orthodox declares that
every asserted fact is a copy of a precedent one, then we ask them to
reconcile the legend of Hercules being begotten by Jupiter, and Jesus by
the Holy Ghost, for unquestionably the story of Alcmena's son preceded
that told of Mary's.

In the following chapter I shall avoid as far as possible any reference
to the tales told of the conception of Jesus, for no man, however
subtle he may be, can prove that the Son of Man had a certain mundane
individual called Joseph for a father; all that I desire to show is,
that in every nation whose history has come down to us there have been
persons whose mothers have declared themselves to have been pure virgins
until adopted by some god as a temporal and temporary spouse, or who,
being wives, have asserted that a son who has distinguished himself
in the world has been of divine procreation--an affirmation, be it
observed, that can only be made in case the spouse has been manifestly
unfaithful, or by some fulsome historian desirous of exalting his hero
to celestial rank. There is scarcely a barbaric dynasty known, indeed,
which does not claim an origin from some heavenly father, mother, or

There have been many hierarchs who, having felt conscious of the
absurdity of making, by miraculous agency, all wonderful beings come
from woman only, have consequently invented legends in which men have
produced offspring without a consort. Some may be disposed to deride
these tales, who can readily credit the stories of virgin mothers; but
in reality there is no difference between the two sets of legends, in
probability, wherever "miracles" are assumed. It would have been quite
as easy for the writer of Genesis to have made Isaac come from old
Abraham's bosom as from the womb of his hoary-headed wife. But the
Jewish writers have never proved themselves as subtle as the Hindoos and
Greeks. Instead of asserting that a man, without a woman's assistance,
has borne a son--a matter capable of proof--they have declared that a
woman has conceived, without the assistance of a man; an asseveration
for which there cannot be any proof whatever, no not even physical,
for accoucheurs know that many a female conceives by her lover's
instrumentality, and bears a child, at whose birth, or rather when
parturition is imminent, that part which is called "the Hymen," and is
the Mosaical test of virginity, is not only unbroken, but so small
in aperture, and strong in flesh, as to require operative or surgical
interference before the child can come into the world. According to
Mosaism these must be regarded as absolutely virgin mothers.


Supernatural generation. What is meant by the term. Examples. Children
given by the gods. Anecdote. Frequency of god-begotten children in
Ancient Greece. Their general fate. The stories not credited by the
grandfathers of children, nor apparently by the mothers. The babies,
how treated. Foundlings and Hospitals. Antiope. Leucothöe. Divinely
conceived persons not necessarily great or good. Babylonian idea that
a god came down to enjoy human women. Tale from Herodotus. Jehovah as a
man. Grecian idea attached to the expression Son of God. Homer. Hebrew
ideas. Roman notions. Romulus, son of Mars and a Vestal Augustus, son
of Apollo. Modern ideas respecting Incubi. Prevalence of the belief.
Its suppression. Causes of its origin. Bible made to pander to priestly
lust. Dictionnaire Infernal. History of incubi therefrom. Stories.
Strange idea that the Gods who made men out of nothing cannot as easily
make babies. Divine Androgynes. Strange stories of single gods having
offspring. Narayana and the Spirit of God of Genesis. Chaos. Hindoo
mythos of Brahma. Birth from churning a dead man's left arm, and again
his right. Ayonyesvara, his strange history. Similar ones referred
to. History of Carticeya. Christian parallels. Immaculate conception a
Hindoo myth. The dove in India and Christendom. Agni and cloven fiery
tongues. Penance and its powers. Miraculous conception by means' of a
dove. Other myths from various sources.

It is a question which should, in my opinion, be asked by every
individual in a rational community, whether it is advisable to continue,
as a matter of faith, a doctrine which must be repudiated, as a matter
of fact. To this we may join, as a rider, can anyone who puts his
credence in a legend because it is old, claim to be superior to those
who originally invented the tale, in the darkness of antiquity? When
moderns smile at the stories told by the classic Varro, how certain
mares in Lusitania were impregnated by the wind on a certain mountain,
without any access to a horse, and at the credence given to similar
accounts by Virgil, Pliny, and even the Christian bishop Augustine; and
by some old Scotch authority how a young woman became a mother through
the intervention of the ashes of the dead: and when they pity the
benighted Greeks who gave to Hercules, Jupiter for a father; and to
Mars, Juno for a mother, without intercourse with her celestial spouse,
it behoves them to inquire whether each may not be addressed in the
sentence, "Mutato nomine, de te fabula narratur"--i.e., change but the
name of the believers from Greeks and Romans to modern Christians, and
it will be found that Popes, priests, and peoples believe as firmly
now in supernatural generation as the most crass pagan of which history

Our classical reading tells us abundance of marvellous stories--how
Jupiter seduced Danae in the form of a golden shower, and yet had a
common son by her, who was not an aureous coin; how Leda received Zeus
as a swan, and bore therefrom a couple of eggs; how Europa was tempted
by him as a bull, and yet did not bear a calf; and how Callisto, a
maiden of Diana, was debauched by the same god under the guise of her
mistress, and yet that from two maidens a boy was formed.

Of the amours of Apollo with a dozen and a half damsels, and of the very
numerous disguises which he assumed, we find abundant details in our
classical dictionaries. Mars, though not so frequently adopted by
human females as a lover, had many children of whom he was the putative

Jupiter had Bacchus and Minerva without Juno's aid, and Juno retaliated
by bearing Ares without conversation with her consort. We deride these
tales, and yet think, that because we laugh at a hundred such we shall
be pardoned for believing one. How little we are justified in acting
thus a few philosophical considerations will demonstrate.

There are few things in mythology that are more curious than the subject
of the miraculous formation of certain individuals. Some of these have
been regarded as the offspring of a celestial father and a mother of
earthly mould; others again, as for example Æneas, were said to be
the result of a union between a heavenly mother and a terrestrial
father--e.g., Æneas was the son of Anchises, a handsome man, and Venus,
goddess of beauty and love. Some, though these are few, are said to be
children of a virgin or deserted wife, who has produced them without any
extraneous assistance,* and others are declared to be descended from a
father whom no consort could ever claim. One individual, indeed, called
Orion, is represented as having been wholly independent of both father
and mother, and the result of a strange form of development, the like of
which Darwin never dreamed of as he came from a bladder into which three
gods had micturated. His name, we are gravely assured, came _ab urinâ_.

     * The following is a good case in corroboration of what is
     said in the text. In the _Dictionnaire Infernal_, to which
     more particular reference will be made shortly, there is, s.
     v. Fécondité, a report of a trial before the Parliament of
     Grenoble, in which the question was, whether a certain
     infant could be declared legitimate which was born after the
     husband had been absent from his wife four full years. The
     wife asserted that the baby was the offspring of a dream, in
     which she had a vivid idea that her wandering spouse had
     returned to love and duty. Midwives and physicians were
     consulted, and reported on the subject. As a result, the
     Parliament ordained that the infant should be adjudged
     legitimate, and that its mother should be regarded as a true
     and honourable wife.   The judgment bears date 13th February

The quaint ideas associated in mythology with the supernatural
generation here referred to have been various. In some instances they
have been wholly poetical, as when we are told that "the Supreme" by his
union with law and order (Themis) produced "Justice," "the Hours," "Good
Laws," and "Peace" (Hesiod Theogony, 900), and as when Europa is said to
have tempted Jupiter to leave Phoenicia, and travel westward to Crete
as the first step towards the colonization of an unknown continent. In
other instances, the ideas have been framed upon the very natural belief
that anyone--whether existent in story only, or in reality--who has
greatly surpassed his fellows, must have had a large element of the
Deity in his constitution. In other instances, the notion has been
associated with the once prevalent belief, that the Creator had a sex,
to which we shall refer by and by; and in other cases, the fancy has
clearly been mingled with the fact, that many an unmarried woman has
attributed to some god, a pregnancy, or baby, which has been due, in
reality, to a very mortal man. Here we may notice that the fecundity
which damsels of old were wont to refer to a god or some inferior, but
yet beneficent, deity, more modern christian girls have associated with
a demon. Jupiter and Apollo being replaced by a special class of imps
who were named "incubi," and of the particulars of whose embraces the
strangest stories are told. This small truth seems to be sufficient to
demonstrate that the Greeks were not familiar with the being to whom
we give the name of "Satan" and the "Devil," and that their belief
coincided in one respect with that of the older Jews, who considered
that whatever occurrence happened in the world, whether apparently for
good or evil, was done by Jehovah, or as the Hellenic damsels reported
by Jupiter, Apollo, or Mars.

Here, too, I may be permitted to introduce a remark suggested by a
narrative, told to me by a lady of high British rank. She had been
brought up in a foreign country under the eye of a sensible and pious,
we may add prudish, mother, who endeavoured to shield her daughter from
all contact with external vicious influences, and to prevent her ears
or her mind from ever coming to the knowledge of those matters which
are associated with love, marriage, and offspring. When the young lady
naturally inquired of mamma where the infants sprang from which came
into the world and grew up around her, she was told, "from God," and she
was referred to Psalm cxxvii. 3, which declares that "children are an
heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is His reward." After
having attained adult age, and being wholly imbued with this belief,
she, on one occasion, expressed her opinion that Mademoiselle--who had
recently been confined--must have been a peculiarly virtuous maiden, to
have received so great a present as a baby from the beneficent Creator.
This speech fell like a bombshell amongst a mixed company, but she knew
not why. It was not until her marriage some time subsequently, that she
learned that infants were said to come from God or the Devil according
to circumstances, but that in reality they were always due to men and

The anecdote given above, naturally enables us to call attention to
the remarkable fact that though the Grecian poets repeatedly spoke of
maidens being fertilized by a divinity, yet Greek fathers never paid
any heed to the power of that god, whom their daughters asserted to have
operated upon their femininity; but always treated the earthly love of
the alleged celestial spouse, as if the latter was wholly powerless to
punish the hard-hearted parent, who had no scruples to turn his daughter
from his door, so that she might hide her shame in distant lands. In
those classic times, procreation by a god upon a human being was the
attempted cover for bastardy. Moreover, even the woman herself, to whom
Jupiter or Apollo was alleged to have descended from heaven to honour,
felt herself so much injured by the visit, that she either tried to
destroy the resulting offspring with her own hands, or exposed it upon
a mountain to the tender mercies of dogs and vultures. Much in the
same way many a modern maiden places her shame-covered infant in
the turn-table of a foundling institution. Antiope, for example, the
daughter of a king of Thebes, was, according to her version, beloved by

Jupiter, who visited her in the form of a satyr and implanted twins.
When she discovered the coming event, which casts its shadow before, she
left the paternal mansion, to avoid her father's anger, and fled to a
mountain, on which she left her hapless offspring. They were found by
shepherds and brought up.

The story of fair Leucothöe is still more to the point. She was
sufficiently beautiful to attract Apollo, who seduced her under the form
of her own mother--not a very likely story it is true, but the two lived
happily together until a rival told the loved one's father of the amour.
The incensed paterfamilias ordered his daughter to be buried alive, and
yet the god who could change her body after death into the frankincense
tree, and himself into a matronly looking woman and yet retain his sex,
could not prevent his earthly spouse from dying a cruel death. In other
words, Orchamus, the parent of the damsel, wholly disbelieved in the
existence of a divine "spark," and felt assured that his daughter had
disgraced herself with a man far below her in earthly rank.

From these, and a number of other Grecian anecdotes, we can draw no
other conclusions than that the sires in those days were as jealous of
the honour of their daughters as we are of our own now; that when that
honour was in danger of being tarnished, a god was alleged by the
damsel to be the offender; that the story was not believed; and that the
daughter fled, was punished, or was pardoned, according to the sternness
or credulity of the parents. The idea that individuals who were the
sons or daughters of a god, must necessarily be great and good, does not
appear to have prevailed amongst the ancient Greeks. Nay, we may even
doubt whether any of them really believed that Jupiter, Apollo, or
Neptune, could, or had ever become incarnate, for the sole purpose
of impregnating a human female. That such an idea, however, prevailed
amongst the Babylonians we learn from Herodotus, who informs us, book i.
c. 181, that Belus comes into a chamber at the summit of a sacred tower
to meet therein a native woman, chosen by the god from the whole nation;
and in the succeeding chapter he indicates that a similar occurrence
takes place in Egyptian Thebes, and in Lycian Patarae. Yet even whilst
writing the tales, the historian expresses his own incredulity of their
value, and we may well suppose that the thoughtful generally, would only
give such credence to the statements of the temple priests, as was given
to certain Christian stories by a philosopher, who said he believed them
because they were impossible. Even if the common people credited the
assertion that "The Supreme" did elect a woman with whom to converse, we
must not despise them too lightly, for we are distinctly told in our own
scriptures that Jehovah appeared as a man, and as such, ate, drank, and
talked with Abraham (Gen. ch. xviii.); that Elohim was in the habit of
conversing face to face with Moses (Exod. xxxiii. 11); and that the
same God wrestled with Jacob as a man, and could not prevail against the
patriarch until he had lamed him. We must also notice that myriads of
Christians have believed, and many still do so, that He in a certain
form had commerce with a Hebrew maiden (Luke i. 34, 35), and had by her
a begotten son.

When civilization spread over Greece, there seems to have been a
change of expression--which being at the first wholly metaphorical,
subsequently became realistic. Thus, any man peculiarly characteristic
amongst his fellows for strength, knowledge, or power, was designated
"a son of God." Thus, as Grote remarks (12 vol. edition), vol. ii. p. 132,
note 1. "Even Aristotle ascribed to Homer a divine parentage; a damsel
of the isle of Ios, pregnant by some god, was carried off by pirates to
Smyrna at the time of the Ionic emigration, and there gave birth to the
poet" (Aristotle ap. Plutarch Vit. Homer, p. 1059). Plato, also by
some, called "the divine," was said by Seusippus to be a son of Apollo
(_Smith's Dictionary_, 8. v.) The Hebrews had a similar metaphorical
expression, and gave to everything supereminently good, an epithet which
we may paraphrase as "divine." Some few writers used the title, "sons
of God," as for example, Job i. 6, and xxxviii. 7, and Hosea i. 10; an
epithet adopted by John i. 12, Rom. viii. 14, 19, Phil ii. 15, 1 John iii
1, 2, as if the same were applicable to all who are virtuous and good
to an especial degree. The Hebrews even seem to have adopted the belief
that Elohim, like the Grecian Zeus, had many children, could, and
did really, associate with human beings, for we can in no other way
reasonably interpret the strange narrative in Genesis vi, wherein we are
told that the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, who became
the sires of mighty men of great renown.

Amongst the Romans, similar ideas to those which we find amongst the
Greeks prevailed. For example, Romulus was said to be the son of Mars
and a Vestal virgin; but so little did her relatives believe in the
possibility of the occurrence, or the divine nature of the maiden's
offspring, that the mother was buried alive, and the twins which she
bare were exposed, much in the same way as modern "foundlings" are. In
this case, as in many others, it is probable that little notice would
have been taken of such supernatural generation had the mother been of
low origin--but when a god inveigles a king's daughter from her duty,
both the one and the other must be punished; the one in her person, the
other in his child. Yet these very writers who told of the punishment of
the Vestal Hia for her intrigue with Mars, took advantage of the story,
and spread a report that Romulus, the offspring of the two, was, after
his death, taken up to heaven to dwell there as a god. At a subsequent
period, Augustus Caesar announced, on his mother's authority, that he
was the son of Apollo, and claimed to be treated as a veritable scion of
that venerable deity.

The account of the conception and birth of Servius Tullius is curious
from its circumstantiality. Ovid tells us, _Fasti_, vi., 625-659, Bonn's
translation: "Vulcan was the father of Tullius; Ocrisia was his mother,
a woman of Corniculum, remarkable for her beauty. Her, Tanaquil, having
duly performed the sacred rites, ordered, in company with herself, to
pour some wine on the decorated altar. Here amongst the ashes, either
was, or seemed to be, a form of obscene shape; but such it really was.
Being ordered to do so, the captive (Ocrisia was a slave), submits to
its embraces; conceived by her, Servius had the origin of his birth from
heaven. His father afforded a proof, at the time when he touched his
head with the gleaming fire, and a flame rising to a point, blazed upon
his locks." In some earlier lines, the poet tells us that the goddess,
Fortune, was enamoured of this same Roman king, and visited him
nightly--much as Venus came to converse with Anchises.

In this story, we have an unusual ingredient, inasmuch as there is a
witness to that which we may call the immaculate conception, and after
birth, a proof of the child's divine origin! Of course there are many
irreverent people who declare that the story is untrue--that it is far
more likely that the real father was Tarquin, who, finding his consort's
beautiful servant to be with child, contrived a plan by which she would
escape the vindictiveness of the mistress--one which, if devotionally
inclined, she was bound to give credence to. Nor can devout Christians
altogether range themselves amongst the unbelievers in the miracle, for
the founder of their religion was borne by a woman of low condition, and
is said to have been begotten by an overshadowing spirit. He assumed to
be a king; but the son of Ocrisia became one in reality, and instituted
games in honour of his divine progenitor.

For some more modern poetical fictions of the same nature, we may refer
our readers to Scott's _Lady of the Lake_, where, in the account of the
Highland seer, Brian, they will find a parallel to the story promulgated
by Alexander the false prophet, respecting his birth, described by

The same ideas, with which we are all of us so familiar in Christendom,
that they form a portion of the creeds which the orthodox weekly
rehearse, have obtained in far Ceylon. Thus, for example, we read in a
Buddhistic legend (_Kusa Iatakaya_, translated by T. Steele, Trübner,
London, 1871, small 8vo., pp. 260):--

     "As Sakra*, with his thousand eyes gazed over every land,
     The hapless queen, with heart distraught, he saw dejected stand;
     His godlike eye revealed to him that to her blessed womb
     Two radiant gods illustrious from Heaven's high town should come.

     Then entering first the Bodisat's blest skyey palace fair,
     And next unto another god's, did Sakra straight repair:
     Benign he said:--Go to the world of men, that distant scene,
     And there be born from out the womb of yon delightful queen.

     The saying of the king of gods unto their hearts they took;
     Then bathed they in his feet's bright rays that shone as shines a brook:
     'Let us be so conceived,' they said, when they the order heard,
     'Within the womb of yonder queen, even as the Lord declared.'"

     --Stanzas 129-131.

     * Indra, "The Supreme."

But the two children do not appear as twins, like Romulus and Remus, for
we find in stanza 155--

"Now when the darling little child, the wisdom-gifted one, Began to lift
his tiny foot, and learn to walk alone, Another god from Heaven's high
town flashed down the sky serene, And was conceived within the womb of
that delightful queen."

I may notice in passing, that the lady was married, but had always been
barren with her husband.

In the instances to which we have referred above, there has been no very
marked departure from the ordinary course of nature. In all, an union
between a father and mother has occurred--in all, the relation between
each to the offspring has been maintained, and the ordinary progress of
gestation observed. The main discrepancies which are to be noticed are,
that a divine is substituted for a human father, or, as in the case of
Æneas, the sire has been a man, and the mother a "celestial." But after
birth, instead of the child being cared for by its parents, it very
frequently happens that a goat, wolf, or other animal, performs
the mother's duty as a nurse. The reader whose antiquarian lore is
considerable, will probably remember that Christians in Italy, France,
and I dare not say in how many other Catholic countries, were implicit
believers in the idea that spirits from the invisible world could assume
a human form, and under that, have intercourse with youths of either
sex. The literature upon this subject was at one time very great, but
such pains have been taken to destroy it, in order that so great a blot
upon the infallibility of Papal rulers should no longer be found, that
there are few books to which I can refer inquirers. The first time I
met with the subject was in a Latin treatise by Cardan, a.d. 1444-1524,*
being commentaries upon Hippocrates. In this, many chapters are devoted
to the possibility of intercourse between women and embodied spirits.
The Mediaeval virgins, unlike the Greeks, always attributed their
pregnancy to demons and not to gods, although on some occasions maidens
were foolish enough, like those of ancient Babylon, to believe that they
were embraced, by a divine being or angel. Into this matter the Italian
doctor enters folly, and endeavours to establish some distinction how
a woman could distinguish an "incubus" from a human being, and if she
became pregnant and brought forth, how the devil's offspring could
be told from an ordinary baby. The particulars which are given to the
learned in Latin, will not bear to be reproduced in the vernacular,
suffice it to say, that they are such as would be given by silly women
more or less conscious of having been guilty of impropriety, and who
were goaded by sanctimonious but ribald divines to enter into every
detail of the devil's doings and the females' sensations.

     * It is more than thirty years since I read the book in
     question, and I have long ago parted with it. As I am unable
     now to lay my hands upon a copy I am not sure whether the
     author was Facio Cardan, who flourished at the period given
     in the text, or the more celebrated Jerome Cardan who lived
     A.D. 1601-1576.

Before saying more of the "incubi," we may bestow a passing glance upon
the foundation of the idea of their existence. In mediaeval times, a
large portion of the New Testament was taken to be literally true, and
the people were instructed to believe that the devil went about like a
roaring lion seeking whom he could devour. The papal priests encouraged
the idea, for by frightening the ignorant, they induced them to purchase
sacerdotal insurance by paying for masses to protect themselves from the
snares of Satan. For hierarchs who were obliged to live without wives,
it was easy in the first place to imbue the mind of a superstitious
maiden with a horror of Apollyon's power, and then to take advantage of
her fears by personifying the fiend. In this manner the bible suggested
the sin to the priest and made the maiden passive.

It would not be profitable to write a catalogue in detail of the
authorities upon which I found these statements. I will rather give a
short resume of an article upon "Incubi," which is to be found in a most
curious book entitled _Dictionnaire Infernal ou Bibliothèque universelle
sur les êtres, les personnages, les livres, les faits et les choses
qui tiennent aux apparitions, à la magie, au commerce de Venfer, aux
divinations, aux sciences secrètes,... aux erreurs et aux préjugés,...
généralment à toutes les croyances mer-veilleuses, surprenantes
mystérieuses et surnaturelles.--Par M. Colin de Plancy. Deuxième
édition entièrement réfondue _; Paris, 1826. The book is rare, but most
interesting to the philosopher who concerns himself about matters
of "faith," for it shows, clearly, that there is no depth of human
degradation into which people who are guided by blind trust in some
fellow mortal, unchecked by the exercise of reason, will not enter, and
there reside permanently, until stirred up by those whom they assert on
the first blush to be "infidels."

After a few preliminary remarks, we are told that the French incubi did
not attack virgins, but in the next paragraph is an account of a maiden
who was seduced by a demon in the form of her betrothed. This was in
Sardinia. An English fiend acted in a similar way, and from the congress
followed a frightful disease of which the poor girl died in three days.
This story is told by Thomas Walsingham, b. A.D. 1410. A Scotch lass
is the next victim reported, and to her the unclean spirit came nightly
under the guise of a fine young man. She became pregnant, and avowed
all. The parents then kept watch, and saw the devil near her in a
monstrous unhuman form. He would not go away till a priest came, then
the incubus made a frightful noise, burned the furniture, and went off
upwards, carrying the roof with him. Three days after a queer form was
born, more horrible than had ever been seen, so bad indeed, that the
midwives strangled it. For the credulous, what fact could be more
strongly attested than this? The reporter is Hector Boetius, b. 1470.

The next tale, having a locale in Bonn, occurred at a time when priests
married and had a family. The daughter of one who was closely watched
and locked up when left by herself, was found out by a demon, who took
upon him the form of a fine young man. Such an occurrence was thought
nothing uncommon then, inasmuch as Paul had told the Corinthians that
Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light (2 Cor. xi. 14). The
poor victim became enceinte and confessed the whole to her father, who,
fearing the devil, and anxious not to make a scandal, sent the daughter
away from home. The impudent fiend came to remonstrate, and killed the
wretched sire with a blow of his fist.--Quoted from _Cæsarii Heistere
mirac_., lib. iii., c. 8. The next case occurs at Schinin, wherein
we are told (Hauppius _Biblioth portai, pract._, p. 454) that a woman
produced a baby without head or feet, with a mouth in the chest near to
the left shoulder, and an ear near the right one; instead of fingers it
had webs like frog's feet, it was liver coloured, and shaky as jelly, it
cried when the mother wanted to wash it, but somebody stifled and then
buried it. The mother, however, wanted it be exhumed and burned, for
it was the offspring of a fiend who had counterfeited her husband. The
thing was taken up and given to the hangman for cremation, but he could
neither burn it nor the rags which enwrapped it until the day after the
feast of Ascension.

The following story is laid near Nantes:--Therein a young girl baulked
of her lover, mutters something like a modern order to him to go to
the foul fiend, and remarks to herself that a demon would be a better
friend. She is betrayed in the usual manner, and finds, when too late,
that she is embracing a hairy incubus which has a long tail. She exclaims
fearfully. The "affreet" blows in her face and leaves her. She is found
frightfully disfigured, and is brought to bed seven days after of a
black cat. The remaining histories are of a similar nature, all alike
showing how completely the so-called Christian people of Modern Europe
believed that disembodied spirits could assume human form with such
completeness as to be the father of offspring. We may fairly compare
these tales with that told by heathen Greeks about Jupiter and Alcmena,
but when we place them side by side, the ancients show a far superior
fancy in their fables than do the comparative moderns. I find from
_Reville's History of the Devil_, p. 54 (London: Williams & Norgate,
1871), that so late as a.d. 1756, at Landshut, in Bavaria, a young girl
of thirteen years of age, was convicted of impure intercourse with the
devil, and put to death. It is a pity that no account of the trial is

Talboys Wheeler, in his _History of India_, vol. IL, p. 515, indicates
that there is to this day, in India, a belief in _incubi_. Speaking
of Paisacha marriages, in which a woman is united to a man without her
knowledge or consent, he remarks:--"The origin of the name is somewhat
curious. The Paisachas were evil spirits or ghosts (see "_Lilith"
and "Satyr" Ancient Faiths_, vol. ii.) who were supposed to haunt the
earth.... If, therefore, a damsel found herself likely to become a
mother without her being able to furnish a satisfactory reason for her
maternity, she would naturally plead that she had been victimized by a
Paisach.... In modern times, however, the belief is still very general
throughout the rural districts of India, that wives, as well as maidens,
may be occasionally victimized by such ghostly admirers."

Every mythologist who has invented such stories as that of Jupiter and
Alcmena, and every woman who has ever attributed her pregnancy to a
divine being, call him what she may, seems completely to ignore the idea
that a god who deserves the name, does not require human aid to produce
a man or woman. Surely every profound thinker would say to himself,
The Supreme, who could by a word create full-grown creatures "in the
beginning," has not lost the power now; surely He, who could make Adam
out of dust, and Eve out of a bone of man, can produce in later days
similar images of the godhead, as we are told in Genesis i. 26,
without accoupling with a descendant of the rib. The mythological
idea, therefore, of a divine child coming from a celestial father and a
terrestrial mother, has nothing profound therein, for it is essentially
a bungling contrivance of some stupid man. On the other hand, such a
notion could only be entertained where a grovelling or anthropomorphic
idea has prevailed, or is cherished amongst a credulous people. To put
the subject into the fewest words possible, a god has never--so far as
thoughtful men can judge--been said to be the father in the flesh of a
human being, except by frail women, or vain, foolish, or designing men.

We are fortified in this conclusion by the method in which nations or
sects who have each their own favourite "son of God," treat each
other. None endeavour to prove that the mother of their own hero had
no commerce with man, for that is impossible--all, on the other hand,
ridicule the idea of there being a child without a human father, and
insist that no woman's word countervails the laws of nature. But this
argument is only used against opposing religionists--it has no weight
against their own divine leader. The cases which we have described are
wholly different from those mythological stories, in which the union
of the sexes is absolutely or relatively ignored. They differ also
from those in which the Creator is represented as androgynous, or being
originally without sex, becomes, by an effort of will, a bisexual being,
so as to bring about the creation of man and of the world. For example,
when we find in the Orphic Hymns (Cory's _Ancient Fragments_, pp. 290,
seq.), "Zeus is male, Immortal Zeus is female," it is clear that there
was in the writer an idea of an union of the sexes being necessary to
creation. But when we find Chaos alone being the progenitor of Erebus
and Black Night, from which again were born Ether and Bay, and Earth the
parent of Heaven and the Sea (Hesiod, Theogony, 116-130), there is a
total absence of a sexual notion. This idea, however, appears in the
subsequent lines which represent Earth wedding with Heaven. The same
sexual notion, appears in another fragment from _Aristophanes_, (Cory,
A. R, p. 293), which tells us that "Night with the black wings first
produced an aerial egg, which in its time gave rise to love, whence
sprung all creation." Yet the egg necessarily presupposes a being which
formed it, and another that fructified it, so that the mythos is not
wholly free from the intermixture of the sexual element.

When mythologists have been peculiarly anxious to shake off the somewhat
grotesque doctrine that the celestial Creator must be independent of any
other power, in the genesis of the world and heaven, there has been a
great variety of attempts to show how this has been brought about. In
one curious Hindoo legend, Vishnu is represented sleeping on the bosom
of Devi, at the bottom of the ocean which covered the world. Suddenly a
lotus sprung from his navel, and grew till it reached the surface of the
flood. From this wonderful flower Brahma sprang, and, seeing nothing but
water, imagined himself the first-born of all creatures. But ere he felt
sure, he descended the stalk and found Vishnu at its root; and then the
two contested their respective claims, but Mahadeva interposed, and, by
a curious contrivance, stopped the quarrel, demonstrating that before
either came into existence there reigned an everlasting lingam.

Another myth closely resembles one which is indicated in the Hebrew
Scriptures, viz., that Narayana, or the spirit of God, a self-existent
entity, moved over the waters, and made them bring forth all things
living. This Narayana is identical with the _yomer elohim_--"the spirit
of God" of the Hebrew Genesis i. 2; the [--Greek--]--the spirit of God,
or Holy Ghost of the Greeks. It is the same as the breezes of thick air
which hovered over chaos in the legend assigned to Sanchoniathon (Cory's
Fragments, p. 1), and produced the slimy matter from which all beings
sprung. Narayana is again the same as the Night of the Orphic fragment
which hovered with her black wings over immensity--the same as the
_chakemah_, or "wisdom" of Proverbs viii.; the Greek _sophia_ and the
_logos_--"the word" of John i. 1. The Buddha--or Brahma of the Hindoo.
From this mysterious source matter was formed into shape and all
creatures sprang into life.

Another Indian mythos (Moor's _Hindoo Pantheon_, p. 78), attributes even
more than this to Brahma. He is said to have produced four beings who
proved refractory, and grieved their maker. To comfort him, Siva issued
from a fold in his forehead--then strengthened by Siva, he produced
Bhrigu and the seven Rishis, and after that, Narada, from his thigh,
Kardama from his shadow, and Dacsha from the forefinger of his right
hand. He had, apparently, without a consort, sixty daughters, and from
these last proceeded all things divine, human, animal, vegetable, and

This is not altogether dissimilar from the Hebrew idea of Jehovah
creating all things except woman from the dust,* and forming her
mysteriously from a rib of the only existing man. We may also compare
it with the birth of Minerva from Jupiter's brain, and Bacchus from
his thigh. But the Greek myth differs from the Hindoo, inasmuch as the
deities referred to were originally conceived by human women, and did
not grow from The Thunderer's body like branches from a tree.

     * In Mythology, things ever repeat themselves, with very
     little alteration. For example, Mahadeva is represented as
     fighting with Dacsha, and producing heroes from the dost by
     striking the ground with his hair. (See Moor's H. P., p.

There is amongst the Hindoos a goddess called Prit'hvi, who is said to
personify the Earth; she had many names which we need not describe, and
she was also furnished with a consort, whose birth is thus described
(Moor, H. P., p. 111.)--"Vena being an impious and tyrannical prince,
was cursed by the Brahmans, and, in consequence, died without issue. To
remedy this, his left arm was opened, and churned with a stick till it
produced a son, who, proving as wicked as his father, was set aside; and
the right arm* was in like manner churned, which also produced a boy,
who proved to be a form of Vishnu, under the name of Prit'hu." We may
add that Prit'hvi treated him badly, and he had to beat and tear her
before she would be comfortable with him. Hence the necessity for
ploughing and digging before crops of cereals, &c., will abound. We can
understand the last part of the legend better than the first. In the
Vedic Mythology, we may say generally, that the means of producing
offspring are curiously numerous; for example, we find in Goldstucker's
_Sanscrit and English Dictionary_, page 20, under the word _angiras_--a
statement that an individual bearing this cognomen, is named in the
Vaidik legends, as one of the 'Prajâpatis', or progenitors of mankind,
engendered, according to some, by Manu; according to others, by Brahma
himself, either with the female half of his body, _or from his mouth, or
from the space "between his eyebrows._"

     * As these legends generally are based upon something which
     Europeans would designate a vile pun, I turned to the
     Sanscrit Lexicon (Monier Williams), first to ascertain the
     names of "the arm;" and, secondly, if there were any words
     allied to it, however remotely, which had a certain meaning.
     Amongst others, I find that _buja_ signifies "an arm," and
     _bhaga_ is a name of Siva--one of whose epithets, _bhagan-
     dara_ = "rending the vulva." _Dosha_ also means "the arm"
     and "night." Another word having the same meaning, is
     _praveshta_, and this not only signifies the arm, but one
     "who covers over." We can then, I think, see why the device
     of the churning, referred to in the text, made a process
     available for the production of a child. The legend is a
     clumsy one, but not more so than that in Exodus xxxiii. 23,
     wherein we are told that Jehovah showed to Moses "His back
     parts,"--Vulgate, _posteriora mea_--inasmuch as no one could
     see His face and live!

A still more curious story is related in the same dictionary, p. 451,
under the word _ayonijeswara_. This appellative is one belonging to a
sacred place of pilgrimage sacred to _Ayonija_, whose miraculous birth
was thus brought about. A very learned Muni, though making a commendable
use of the proper nasal way of reading sacred scripture in his own
person, yet associated with individuals who did not give the orthodox
twang.* The good man remained, in consequence of this, in a sonless
condition, but the legend does not condescend to explain why toleration
of tones in religious ceremony should make a husband infertile and
his wife barren. At any rate, the Muni, named Vidyananda, feeling the
punishment a great one, travelled, apparently alone, from one holy
place to another without being nearer paternity. At length he met with
a _yogin_ or male anchoret, hermit, devotee, or saint, corresponding
to the _yoginis_, who are represented by Moor (H. P., p. 235) as being
sometimes very lovely and alluring; and he, taking pity upon the Muni,
gave him a wonderful fruit, which, he informed him, if eaten by his
wife, would have the effect of procuring for Vidyananda the birth of a
son. But the Muni, like many another character in mythological and fairy
tales, seems suddenly to have lost his sense of hope deferred and a
certain prospect of relief, for instead of hurrying home he sought
repose under a tree on a river's brink, and whilst there ate the fruit
himself. He at once became pregnant. When the new state of things
was evident, he confessed all that had happened to the Yogin, and the
latter, by means of his supernatural power, introduced a stick into the
body of Yidyânanda, and relieved him of the infant. The creature was a
beautiful boy, radiant like the disc of the sun, and endowed with divine
lustre, and on account of the mode in which he was born his father
called him _Ayonija_, which signifies, "not born from the womb." The
account then goes on to state that this miraculous infant became a
wonderfully good, learned, pious, religious, and fanatic man; that the
god, delighted with his piety, gave him sons and grandsons, and after
his death received him into his heaven. Any persons coming now to
bake at the spot where these favours from Siva were granted, and
duly performing the various duties of a pious pilgrim, are rewarded,
according to their piety, &c., with progeny, worldly happiness, freedom
from transmigration, and eternal bliss.

     * This reminds me of an anecdote which I once read of a
     devout Scotch mother, who, on hearing her son read the Bible
     in an ordinary tone of voice, cuffed him violently because
     he presumed to read that Holy Book without the customary
     religious drawl.

Under the word _Ayonija_, Goldstucker gives the following examples
of individuals "not born from the _yoni_" viz.:--"_Drona_, the son
of Bharadwâja, who was born in a bucket" "_Suyya_, whose origin was
unknown." "_Draupadi_, who at a sacrifice of her father Drupada, arose
out of the sacrificial ground." "_Sita_, who sprang into existence in
the same manner as Draupadi" The same is also an epithet of Vishnu or

These stories pale in interest before that of the origin of Carticeya
(see Moor's H. P., p. 51, 89), and I give an account of this legend,
foolish though many conceive it to be, for everything which is
connected with a Hindoo mythos is remarkable, whenever it is found to be
antecedently parallel with Christian surroundings of a somewhat similar
narrative. We notice, for example, in the following tale, that the
Indian idea of the power of "penance" and "asceticism," is, that these
doings or actions are so great, that by their means alone man may compel
the Creator to do things against His design, whilst in the Papal
tales of certain monks and nuns, we find the doctrine asserted that by
preeminent fastings, scourgings and prayers, people have acquired the
power to sell salvation to their fellow men, in a manner different to
that which is appointed. Again, the god when forced to obey the power of
the devotee, is represented as inventing a method by which he could,
as it were, cheat himself, just as Jehovah or Elohim is said to have
contrived a plan by which He could circumvent Himself for the vow which
He had made to destroy all the men upon the earth by a flood of water.
Again, as the arrogance of the ascetic threatened to destroy the world
and the heaven, a deliverer or a saviour was promised, who should be
begotten by an incarnate god upon a goddess equally incarnate, and save
mankind from a terrible devil This is a counterpart of the Papal theory,
which makes it appear that a portion of the godhead became incorporated
with a dove, and had union with a woman, herself an immaculate
manifestation of another portion of "The Supreme." Yet still more
striking than this, is the part which the dove plays in the Indian
mythos of the birth of the Hindoo Saviour. In almost every mediaeval
painting or etching of the miraculous conception of the Virgin Mary, the
dove takes the position of the divine father of Jesus. Nay, so distinct
is the idea intended to be conveyed in one instance, that a dove,
surrounded by a galaxy of angelic heads, darts a ray from his body on
high, into the very part of the virgin, proper to receive it. The design
of the artist is still farther heightened by the _vesica piscis_, the
emblem of woman being marked upon the appropriate part of the dress, and
a figure of an infant within it, points unmistakeably to the belief that
the Holy Ghost, like a dove, absolutely begot the Jewish saviour as he
did the Hindoo deliverer of gods and men. (_See Ancient Faiths_, vol IL,
p. 648, fig. 48).

But the parallel may even be carried farther, for in the Indian history
it is Agni, the embodiment of fire or the fire or sun god, who
becomes the dove; whilst in the Christian history, fire is one of the
manifestations of the Holy Ghost (Acts ii. 3). We conclude this from the
fact, that all devout churchmen believe that the Holy Ghost descended
upon the day of Pentecost with the sound of a rushing mighty wind, as
a multitude of cloven fiery tongues, which again suggests to the
recollection of those familiar with the Vedic story, that the
Maruts--rushing, mighty, stormy winds--were frequent attendants upon
Agni For example, in one of the Hymns (p. 39) of the Rig Veda Sanhita
(translated by Max Müller), the burden or chorus of every verse is,
"with the Maruts come hither, O Agni." Here, however, the parallel
between the two myths ceases, for in the Indian tale the saviour has no
earthly mother. We may really affirm that he has no mother at all, being
the offspring of the father alone, whilst in the Christian history, the
deliverer is represented as having no human sire. The one story is just
as likely to be true as the other, or just as unlikely. As a reasonable
being I cannot believe the one without crediting the other, or reject
only one of the two.

With this preface, we may proceed to relate the legend as recorded
by Moor. A certain devil or Daitya--for it must be remarked that the
Hindoos regard the devil as being composed of many individualities,
much in the same way as Christians do--was extremely ambitious and
oppressive, as Satan is said to have been in heaven.* To force Brahma
to promise him any boon he should require, the ascetic went through the
following penances, persisting in each for a hundred years. (1) He stood
on one foot, holding the other, and both hands upwards, and fixed his
eyes on the sun. (2) He stood on one great toe. (3) He lived upon water
alone. (4) He lived on air. (5) He immersed himself in water. (6) He
buried himself in the earth, and yet continued as before in incessant
adoration. (7) He then did the same in fire. (8) Then he stood upon his
head with his feet upwards. (9) He then stood upon one hand. (10) He
hung by his hands from a tree. (11) He hung on a tree with his head

     * I call attention to these parallels, for they compel as
     either to accept the Hindoo stories as true, because they
     coincide with that which Christians regard as "revealed
     truth," or they oblige as to distrust our current ideas as
     to the inspired verity of some biblical stories, founded as
     they are upon the same, or a similar, basis to those of the
     Brahmins. The Hindoo tale being founded in the Sinpurana,
     there can be no reasonable doubt that its fabrication
     preceded that of the Hebrew or Christian mythos.

The effect of these austerities alarmed all the gods, and they went to
Brahma for consolation. He answered that though he was bound to grant
the boon desired by a man who became powerful by his austerities, he
would devise a method of rendering it inoffensive to the heavenly host.
Tarika, the name borne by the Daitya, asked for the gift of unrivalled
strength, and that no hand should slay him except a son of Mahadeva.
This being acquired, he plundered all the minor gods--the sun, dreading
him, gave no heat; and the moon, in terror, remained always at the
full--in short, the devil, Tarika, usurped the entire management of the
universe. Nareda--the personification of Reason--Wisdom, the Logos, or
"word," now prophesied that the destined deliverer, or saviour of the
world, would come from the union of Mahadeva and Parvati. But the
first was indisposed to marry, and only consented to do so after being
mollified by ardent devotions and great austerities enacted by the
second. To the horror, however, of the discomfited world, Parvati was
barren; and the gods deputed Agni to try to produce the son whom all
so earnestly desired. He took the form of "a dove," and arrived in the
presence of Mahadeva just as he had risen from the arms of Parvati,
and received from him, in a manner not easy or necessary to describe
minutely, the germ of Carticeya; but, unable to retain it, the bird let
it fall from his bill into the Ganges. On the banks of this river arose,
therefrom, a boy, beautiful as the moon, and bright as the sun. This was
"The Saviour" promised by the prophet. When he attained to manhood, he
fought the devil in a terrific combat which lasted ten whole days; but
Carticeya came off the conqueror, and delivered the world. I may notice
in passing that as Carticeya is represented to be the son of his
father, Mahadeva alone--so Ganesa, who was born after the marriage
above referred to, is said to be solely the son of his mother, Parvati;
Mahadeva not having anything to do with him. It is still farther stated
in the _Sin purana_ that the husband was jealous, and displeased at
this assumption of independent power by his spouse, punished her in the
person of this mysterious son (Moor, H. P., page 171-2).

There is another Hindoo story in which a father alone becomes the
progenitor of twins--and it is remarkable, not only for this, but for
the dread which a deity is said to feel from the austerities of a man.
Wheeler (_History of India_, vol. i, p. 78; Williams' _Sanscrit Lexicon,
s. v. Kripa_), regards this tale as Brahmanical, and, accepting his
authority, we can see that the asceticism which is introduced into the
story is intended to exalt the claims of that section of the priesthood
who torture themselves. It runs thus:--Saradvat, by the magnitude of his
penances, frightened Indra, who sent a celestial nymph to tempt him.
He resisted all her wiles, and refused all commerce with her; but his
excited imagination produced one of its common effects, and from that
which was "spilled upon the ground" a boy and girl arose, Drona and
Kripa. In Wheeler's sketch of the story, two such miraculous events
occur, for a precisely similar occurrence took place with a certain
Raja--and the males sprung from this supernatural form of generation,
Drona and Drupada, became cronies, and were educated together. In
Wheeler's account Kripa becomes the wife of Drona, and not his twin
sister. She is represented to have been born from a Brahmin named
Gautama, in the same fashion as Drona was. Certes, the scribes who wrote
the gospels, and doubled wonders to make them more miraculous, are far
behind the Hindoos in the unblushing effrontery of their conceptions.

A story somewhat analogous to that of the origin of Carticeya--Drona
and Drupada, is to be found in Grecian mythology. Therein we read
(see Lempriere's _Classical Dictionary, 8.V_., Minerva), that
Jupiter promised to his daughter, Minerva, that she should never be
married--since that was her especial desire. But, unfortunately, the
Thunderer had not a good memory, and was unable to foresee the future;
he therefore promised to Vulcan that he would--in return for a perfect
suit of armour--give him whatsoever boon he asked. The distorted god,
being a great admirer of the personification of wisdom, demanded Minerva
in marriage. Zeus then granted his petition and gave Minerva to him for
a bride, so that "arts and arms" should thenceforth be wedded together.
But the goddess disliked Vulcan, just as much as science and philosophy
shun war and physical weapons. Jupiter then privately counselled his
daughter to submit, apparently, but to contend, actually, whenever her
husband should endeavour to caress her. This advice the goddess very
artfully and determinately carried out. But Vulcan's impetuosity was
extreme, and the contest between the spouses was prolonged. Though the
promised wife was in the end victorious, and retained her virginity, the
scene of the strife, like many another battle-field, required cleansing.
The material employed by the goddess in the process was thrown down
to earth, and from this stuff sprung Ericthonius, as the son of Vulcan
alone, who, on attaining man's estate, became the fourth king of Athens.

A somewhat similar story is told of Jupiter (Arnobius, _adv. Gentes_, B.
v.), who is represented as enamoured of Themis, who, when lying on the
rock Agdus, in Phrygia, and there surprised by the god, resisted his
desires, as Minerva had done those of Vulcan, and with a somewhat
similar result. But in this instance, that which the author calls in
another passage of his work, the _vis Lucilii_, fell upon the hard rock.
This conceived, and, after ten months, the stony soil brought forth a
son, called, from his maternal parent, Agdistis. His character, and even
his appearance, were frightful and rugged in the extreme. His strength,
recklessness, and audacity frightened all the gods. In their dilemma,
Bacchus offered to give his aid, and proceeded first to make the man
drunk by substituting wine for the water of the fountain from which he
habitually drank. Then, by a curious contrivance, he made the fierce
hunter emasculate himself. The earth swallows up the sanguinary ruins
of his manhood, and in their place comes up a pomegranate tree in full
bearing. This being seen by Nana, a king's daughter, she plucks some of
the fruit, and lays it in her bosom. By this she becomes pregnant, and,
her story being disbelieved, her father attempts to starve her. But the
mother of the gods sustains her with apples (see Canticles ii. 5),
and berries, or other food. Her baby, when born, is exposed as being
illegitimate, but found by a goatherd and brought up--becoming the all
but deified Atys.

In this legend, we see one son born without a human mother, and a second
without any other father than Rimmon, or a pomegranate.*

     * Agdus, Agdistis, &c--I am frequently tempted, after
     reading a story like the preceding, to search in the
     Sanscrit lexicon to ascertain if there can be any esoteric
     signification in the legend that can be explained by that
     ancient language. Arnobius opens the story with a statement
     of the remote antiquity of the tale, and how it is connected
     with the Great Mother. He then tells of a wild district in
     Phrygia, called Agdus. Stoaes taken from it, as Themis had
     enjoined, were used by Deucalion and Pyrrha to repeople the
     world which had been destroyed by a flood. The great mother
     was fashioned amongst the rest, and animated by the deity;
     then follows the story given in the text. Now, in the
     Sanscrit, Agadha signifies a "hole or chasm," and such
     things have from the earliest times typified the Celestial
     Mother. Agdistis I take to be a Greek form of Agasti--son
     both of Mitra and Varuna by Urvasi, said to have been born
     in a water-jar, to have swallowed the ocean, and compelled
     the Vindhya mountains to prostrate themselves before him,
     &c. (Monier Williams' Sanskrit English Lexicon, pp. 4, 6).
     Themis may be a corruption of Dhamas--the moon, an epithet
     of Vishnu, Yama, and Brahma; also the Supreme Spirit (M. W.
     op. cit., p. 448). Deucalion seems readily to be resolved
     into the dyu or div--holy, and Kalam, semen virile (M. W.,
     p. 211). Pyrrha may apparently be derived from bdra--an
     opening or aperture (M. W.); also bhdra--bearing, carrying,
     cherishing, supporting (M. W., p. 700). Atys, described as
     of surpassing beauty, may fairly be associated with atisi
     and atisaya--to surpass, excel, exceed; and pre-eminence,
     superiority (M. W., op. cit., p. 15). Liber, again, who is
     clever enough to outwit and conquer Agdistis, may, without
     too strong a stretch of imagination, come from Idbha--
     obtaining, gaining, getting; capture, conquest; the rootword
     is labh--to seize, to take hold of, gain, recover, regain,
     fcc. (M. W., p. 861, 2). Nana, the mother of Atys the
     beautiful, has probably come from nanda--happiness,
     pleasure, joy, felicity, delight (M. W., op. cit. p. 467).
     In the previous volumes I have referred to the pomegranate--
     Hebrew, Rimmon--as an emblem. In the legend which makes Nana
     conceive by eating this fruit, there are, I fancy, two
     ideas--one, that the pomegranate is filled with seeds and
     pulp of a red colour; the other, that in the Greek its name
     is rota, or roa, which has a close resemblance in sound with
     reo--to flow or gush. Of the word Midas--the name of him who
     sought to bring about the union of the opposite sexes by
     marrying his daughter Nana to Attis or Atys, the most
     appropriate etymon which I can find in the Sanscrit is in
     the root math, which signifies to strike fire by rubbing
     wood together, to churn or produce by churning.

If we allow that there is truth in these derivations, we can then see
how completely Arnobius has been deceived by taking the legend au pied
de la lettre. He sees nothing but the exoteric side of the fable; the
more instructed philosopher sees in it nothing beyond an attempt to
weave a story to account for ordinary men and women existing. The Earth,
from her deep womb produces stones which become male and female (compare
Psalm cxxzix. 15--"When I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in
the lowest parts of the earth." But mycologists were not always content
with giving precedence in creation to the "Great Mother," consequently
the "Father of all" comes upon the scene from no one knows where.
Refusing to share with him her supremacy, he, like the Hindoo Mahadeva,
becomes a father in spite of her. Like his parent, the son becomes
raging mad, like an elephant or a horse in spring. He is tamed by
castration, but the parts he loses still bear a fructifying power,
and once more, a maiden--type of the celestial virgin, has offspring.
Without going further into the tale, the story teller endeavours again
to introduce marriage, but on the threshold arrests himself, apparently
under the idea that the wedded state takes away the pleasure of freedom
from fine young men. Beyond this point it would be unprofitable to go,
since few of us can realize Greek ideas on certain matters.

The origin of Venus is told by Hesiod in such a manner as to lead his
readers to believe that, not only was she the daughter of a father
alone, but of that particular part of his body which has been deified
as a Trinity. After speaking (_Theogmy_, 170-200), of the cruelty of
Ouranos, and how his wife inspirited Cronos to punish his father by
means of a sickle made of white iron extracted from her body (t.&, the
earth), we read--"Then came vast Heaven, Ouranos, bringing Night with
him, and eager for love, brooded around Earth (_Ge_) and lay stretched,
I wot, on all sides; but his son from out his ambush grasped at him with
his left hand, whilst in his right he took the huge sickle, long and
jagged-toothed, and hastily mowed off the genitals of his sire, and
threw them, to be carried away, behind him. These fell into the sea,
and kept drifting a long time up and down the deep, and all around kept
rising a white foam from the immortal flesh; and in it a maiden was
nourished. First, she drew nigh divine Cythera, and thence came next to
wave-washed Cyprus. Then forth stepped an awful, beauteous goddess; and
beneath her delicate feet the verdure throve around; her, gods and men
name Aphrodite the foam-sprung goddess," &c. (Bonn's Translation, p.

Still further, we find in the Grecian mythology that Minerva was the
offspring of Jupiter without a mother being in the case--unless we
put faith in the tale, that the god impregnated Metis, or wisdom, and
afterwards ate her up. In this case the goddess ought, however, to have
emerged from the abdomen, and not from the head of her father. Vulcan,
moreover, is said to have been the son of Juno alone, "who in this
wished to imitate Jupiter, who had produced Minerva from his brains"--a
mythos which does not tally with the statement that Zeus ordered Vulcan
to cleave his head open, not the part corresponding to the yoni The
tales certainly lack that evidence which the philosopher is bound to
seek for; but for those orthodox believers who are bound to credit every
extraordinary event which is recorded in the books of the faithful,
no testimony is required. Those who feel assured that a serpent, ox,
donkey, tree, bush, and other things have spoken rationally, can readily
extend their trust and assure themselves that a female has had a child
without a male, and _vice versa_--especially when the individuals were

As we have before remarked, there is nothing in the mythological stories
which we have just recounted that is either more or less miraculous than
conception, &c., by a virgin without the intervention of a human
spouse. There is, whenever a miraculous agency is presumed, no greater
difficulty in believing that children may be produced without mothers,
than that they should be formed without the intervention of a father.
Ere a tree can rise in the soil of a field, a germ, seed, or cutting is
as necessary as the existence of a moist mould, or other ground. There
being then no greater probability that a crop will spring from a moist
plain without seed, than that an abundant harvest will come from dry
seed alone, we are necessarily thrown back upon testimony, when we are
asked to believe in the paternity of man and the maternity of woman
without any association of the one with the other.

The mythologists who conceived, or who recorded the fabulous history of
Orion, evidently had some idea in their minds of the necessity of two
elements in the formation and growth of a child, when they told the
tale of the generation of that giant; and the myth connected with this
individual is so curiously like one recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures,
that it deserves full notice. In Genesis the narrative informs us that
there was an old couple, both beyond the age at which there is any
probability of either party performing the part necessary for the
production of offspring (Gen. xviii. 12), both were desirous of having
at least one son, but though they had been long united in marriage,
their aspirations had been vain. To this couple, or rather to the
husband, Jehovah is said to have appeared with two companions (Gen.
xviii. 1, 2), and as the man was hospitably disposed, he ordered his
wife to make some cakes, whilst he went to fetch and kill a calf for his
servant to dress and cook. The visitors then partook, alone, of the good
cheer, and when they had made the repast they promised the husband that
his long cherished desire should be fulfilled, and that he should have a
son. There does not, however, appear to be anything supernatural in the
generation of the infant, except the mere facts that the father had been
effete for some time, and the mother had always been barren even when
young, so that conception was more surely miraculous by reason of her
advanced age. The probability of pregnancy at Sarah's time of life was
certainly small, but she was reminded that nothing was too hard for
Jehovah to effect. Had not He already made man out of dust and woman out
of man? and surely after that it was easy to cause a man and woman to
act their respective parts. The reader must specially bear in mind this
observation of the Lord's when he reads the Greek story following. (See
Ovid's _Fasti_, book 5).

"Jupiter, his brother Neptune, and Mercury, were on their travels; the
day was far spent and evening approached. They were spied by a venerable
man, an humble farmer, who stood in the doorway of his small abode. He
accosts them with the words, 'long is the road and but little of the day
remains, my door too is ever open to the stranger,' and so earnest is
his look of entreaty, that the gods accept his invitation."

Jupiter and the others, however, conceal their divine nature, and
eat and drink like common men. But after a draught of wine, Neptune
inadvertently names Jupiter, and the poor man who has thus entertained
angels unawares, is frightened at their presence. After a few moments of
natural embarrassment, he goes to his field and kills his only ox--the
drawer of his plough--then he cuts up the animal, roasts it well,
produces his best wine, and lays the feast, when ready, before his
august guests. Then Jove, delighted with his hospitality and piety, says
to the farmer, 'If thy inclination leads thee to desire anything, wish
for it, and thou shalt receive it.' To which the old man answers, 'I
once had a dear wife, known as the choice of my early youth, yet she is
now gone from me and an urn contains her ashes.

To her I vowed, calling upon you my lord gods as witnesses to the oath,
that I would never wed me more. I swore and will keep my word. She and
I longed for a son, yet none came to bless our declining years. I yearn
for one now, but will not endeavour to procure one, I wish to be a
father, yet refuse to be a husband or enact his part.' To deities like
Jupiter, such a request was by no means a difficult one to grant, the
gods could as readily form a boy as they could fabricate Pandora--a
lovely woman--and send her to Prometheus, with all the ills which flesh
is heir to, confined in an ark, chest, or coffer. Yet the process of
what may be designated conception was a strange one. The three simply
relieved themselves of the wine which they had drunk, using the skin of
the slaughtered ox instead of a more commodious vessel. The man was then
ordered to bury the whole in the ground, and wait according to the time
of life. The gestation of the earth was completed in ten months, and
at the end of that period the venerable farmer possessed a fine lad who
grew up and became famous. If, now, we substitute for the Grecian name,
Hyrieus, the Hebrew title Abraham; if for Jupiter, Neptune, and Mercury,
we read, Jehovah and two angels; if for the phrase, "they were on their
travels," we read, "they were going down to Sodom to see if it was as
bad a place as it was reported to be" (see Gen. xviii. 21); if for the
ox which was roasted, we place, "a calf tender and good," we see a
wonderful resemblance between the stories of the conception of Orion and
Isaac. But there is this difference that in the Hebrew tale the divine
gift is brought about by a transient restoration of power to Abraham
and Sarah; whilst in the Grecian mythos, the old man is faithful to
the memory of a beloved spouse, and refuses to renew with another the
pleasure which he had in her company. We conceive that the exigency of
the Jewish account, made it necessary that the son of Abraham should be
of his father begotten, as well as a child of promise; whereas no one
can call Orion the son of any one, although he was as surely a child of
promise granted by the gods, as Isaac was, who was given by Elohim (or
the gods) of the Hebrews.

We may enter now, for a short time, into a speculation whether the
Grecian story was borrowed from the Hebrew or the contrary. We are
disposed to believe that the tale was adopted by the Jews after they
became acquainted with the Greeks. The following are our reasons:--The
conception of a godhead composed of three persons, is foreign to the
Hebrew thoughts of the Almighty. Still further was it from Jewish
belief to think, that Jehovah would come down upon earth to acquire
information, and when there, eat and drink and talk like any ordinary
man. Amongst the Israelites it was generally held that no one could see
the face of God and live, On the other hand, the Greeks were familiar
with tales which told of gods coming down to earth in the guise of men.
As an illustration of this, we may point to Acts xiv. 11-13, wherein
we find that the people of Lycaonia imagined that the gods Jupiter and
Mercurius had come down to them in the likeness of men, and prepared
to sacrifice to them. Yet after all, Paul had simply cured a single
paralytic. On the other hand, the Jews regarded as rank blasphemy, and
a crime worthy of death, that Jesus should assert himself to be a son of
God, even although the miracles alleged in support of the assertion were
as stupendous as they were numerous.

Still, further, we cannot imagine that the degrading story of Jehovah's
feasting with Abraham could have been composed, except when the Jews
were no better than an untaught and grossly superstitious race. We
have already, in _Ancient Faiths, &c._, expressed our opinion that the
Israelites were at the very lowest period of their history at the time
when Isaiah began his exhortations. There had been a confederacy between
the men of Edom, of Moab, Gebal, Amnion, Amalek, Tyre, Philistia, and
Assyria, the Ismaélites and the Hagarenes, which had attacked Jerusalem
and Judea, and captured all the inhabitants, many of whom they sold to
the Grecians (see Joel iii. 5-7). At, and shortly after this time,
the Jews were in a condition of abject misery (see Isaiah i. 4-9), and
capable of believing any story told to them, and would just as easily
credit the mythology which the Grecian captives told, or their Grecian
masters taught, as their successors do those which at a subsequent
period filled the Hebrew Scriptures.

Whilst then, on the one hand, there is a probability of the Hebrews
having borrowed the fable from Hellenistic sources, there is, on the
other, the strongest objection to the supposition that the Greeks
should have borrowed from the Jews. Everything which the latter say of
themselves, indicates that they were exclusive to an inordinate
degree, refusing to have intercourse on equal terms with any of their
neighbours, that they never sought to make their history, laws, and
customs, known to Gentiles, and especially those outside of Judea, and
that their writings never assumed a Grecian dress until the time of
Ptolemy Philadelphus, who ordered the Septuagint translation to be made
about B.c. 285, with the direct view of making the Hebrew Scriptures
known to the Greeks.

Moreover, we know from everything which was said of the Jews by
the Gentiles, that the latter treated the former with contempt and
contumely, and would no more dream of imitating any of their writings,
&c., than we should care to adopt the myths of Abyssinian negroes as an
integral part of Christianity.

It will now be profitable if we examine the story of Sanchoniathon and
the statements of the Orphic Hymns.

We have, in the course of this chapter and elsewhere, so» often referred
to the Grecian story of the Creation as given by Sanchoniathon and in
the Orphic hymns, that I think my readers are entitled to receive
some further account of them; so I reproduce passages which bear upon
supernatural generation, and especially that of the world and its
inhabitants--my main authority being _Ancient Fragments, &c._, by J. P.
Cory (London, 1832).

Of Sanchoniathon we know little; our information may be summed up by
saying that he is mentioned eulogistically by Eusebius (a.d. 270-338),
an historian whose veracity cannot be entirely depended on. He says that
Sanchoniathon had, ere his time, been translated by a certain writer
called Philon Byblius, and it seems that Porphyry is credited with
having copied a great part of this translation into Greek from the
Phoenician. Nothing, however, is actually known of the historian in
question, except from Eusebius (_Smith's Dictionary_, p. 308, vol.III.,
s. v., Philon.) We may then assume, according to our inclination, either
that the story is really a compendium of Tyrian legendary lore, or
simply a representation of what the Greeks imagined. The way, however,
in which the generation of beings is described, well deserves attention
from its similarity, and its contrasts with the biblical story. First,
there was a breeze of thick air and Chaos. These united and produced
Pothos. This again united with the wind, and Mot was the result, also
called Ilus; from this sprung the seed of Creation. And there were
certain animals without sensation, from which intelligent animals were
produced.* After this follows a quantity of stuff that is traceable to
Hesiod, and a part of which may be considered a paraphrase of Genesis.
Then mention is made of Elioun, called Hypsistus (the most High),
and his wife Beruth--as being the contemporaries of others; but no
indication is given from whence they came. These produced Ouranos
(Heaven) and Ge (Earth). Their father was killed by wild beasts! Then
Ouranos married Ge, and had offspring by her. But he had other women,
and Ge was jealous. Ouranos, however, came to her when he listed and
attempted to kill her children. He had a son, Cronus, who drove him from
his kingdom. This son turns out to be the original being called Ilus,
and he contrived to emasculate his father, and from the blood which
flowed sprang rivers and fountains. The remainder of this story scarcely
deserves notice.

     * The author of the tale evidently had something in common
     with our modern Darwin.

Ere we turn our attention to the compositions known as the Orphic Hymns,
it will be interesting to inquire whether the preceding account of
Creation had a Phoenician origin, or may more fairly be traced to an
Indian source flowing through a Greek channel After a diligent search in
the Hebrew Lexicon--and it is to be noticed that the Hebrew is all but
identical with the Tyrian and Carthaginian, I cannot find any words
or roots from which the proper names in the opening paragraph of
Sanchoniathon can by any ingenuity be derived. Nor can I discover in the
Greek anything which explains the esoteric signification of the story.

But, on reference to the Sanscrit, there is a curious identity apparent
between the second verse in Genesis and a Hindoo idea. The former
runs:--"The earth was without form and void (_tohu ve bohu_), and
darkness was upon the face of the deep, and the spirit of God moved
on the face of the waters." The Indian interpretation of the myth is
this:--"Air in motion, _vahu_, ruffled the inexplicable, or empty space,
_ka, has_, or _Icha, Icham_, a word also signifying 'nothing.' Thence
proceeded the earth, _Ua, or Mot_ (Sans); _Math_ (Sans) making fire
by rubbing sticks (coitus?) _Mada, mdda, and moda_, pleasure, delight,
gladness=love, Eros." This is almost the same idea that Hesiod

In the Orphic Hymns we find much more clearly than in any other writing
amongst the ancient Greeks the early Hellenic notion of the generation
of the worlds and of mankind. Respecting the value of the fragments
there may be some difference of opinion. The curious and doubtful may
be referred to _Smith's Dictionary_ (s.v. Orpheus); for me it will
be sufficient to state that both Aristophanes and Plato refer to the
presumed author as a religious teacher and a preacher against murder,
and Euripides frequently mentions him. This will place Orpheus at least
before b.c. 480. If, however, we consider him as identical with the
oft-sung husband of Eurydice, we must place him B.c. 650 (Smith, s.v.).

In quoting from Cory's translation, I shall not scruple to make the
sense of more importance than literality: "Zeus is the first--he, the
thunderer, is the last; he is the head and the middle, he fabricated all
things. Zeus is male; he, the immortal, is also female; he founded the
earth and the starry heaven; he is the breath of all things, the rushing
of indefatigable fire. Zeus is the root of the sea, the sun and moon,
the king, the author of universal life; one power, one demon, the
mighty prince of all things; one kingly frame, in which this universe
revolves--fire and water, earth and ether, night and day, and Metis
(counsel); the primeval father and all delightful Eros (love). All these
things are united in the vast body of Zeus. Would you behold his head
and his fair face? It is the resplendent heaven, round which his golden
locks of glittering stars are beautifully exalted in the air. On each
side are the two golden taurine horns, the risings and settings, the
tracks of the celestial gods: his eyes are the sun and opposing moon;
his unfallacious mind the royal incorruptible Ether."

The next fragment has been filched by the author of _Sanchoniathon_, and
we must not quote it. After a recapitulation about Chaos, Cronos, Ether,
and Eros, he proceeds:--"I have sung the illustrious father of night
existing from eternity, whom men call Phanes, for he first appeared. I
have sung the birth of powerful Brimo (Hecate), and the unhallowed deeds
of the earth-born giants who showered down from heaven their blood--the
lamentable seed of generation, from whence sprung the race of mortals
who inhabit the boundless earth for ever."

"Chaos was generated first, and then the wide-bosomed Earth--the ever
stable seat of all the Immortals that inhabit the snowy peaks of Olympus
and the dark dim Tartarus in the depths of the broad-wayed earth, and
Eros--the fairest of the immortal gods, that relaxes the strength of
all, both gods and men, and subjugates the mind and the sage will in
their breasts. From Chaos were generated Erebus and black Night; and
from Night again were generated Ether and day, whom she brought forth,
having conceived from the embrace of Erebus; and Earth first produced
the starry heaven, equal to herself, that it might inclose all things
around herself."

The preceding is given by Hesiod (900 B.c.). The following is the
version given by Aristophanes:--"First were Chaos and Night, and black
Erebus and vast Tartarus; and there was neither Earth nor Air nor
Heaven: but in the boundless bosoms of Erebus, Night with her black
wings first produced an aerial egg, from which at the completed time
sprang forth the lovely Eros, glittering with golden wings upon his back
like the swift whirlwinds. But embracing the dark-winged Chaos in the
vast Tartarus he begot our race (the birds). The race of the Immortals
was not till Eros mingled all things together; but when the elements
were mixed one with another, Heaven was produced, and Ocean and Earth
and the imperishable race of all the blessed gods."

"Maia, supreme of gods, Immortal Night, tell me, &c." The next
invocation is to the double-natured Protogonus--the bull coming from
the egg, the renowned light, the ineffable strength, Priapus the king,
&c.--"Metis (wisdom) bearing the seed of the gods, whom the blessed
inhabitants of Olympus call Phanes Protogonus." "Metis the first father
and all-delightful Eros." Again, in allusion to Phanes,--

"Therefore the first god bears with himself the heads of animals--many
and single--of a bull, of a serpent, and of a fierce lion, and
they sprung from the primeval egg in which the animal is seminally
contained." "The theologist places around him the heads of a ram, a
bull, a lion, and a dragon, and assigns him first both the male and
female sex." "Female and Father is the mighty god Ericapeus; to him also
the wings are first given."

The Japanese account of the creation is of sufficient interest to
be noticed here. I quote it from a translation of the _Annals of the
Emperors of Japan_, by Mons. Titsingh, assisted by interpreters of the
Dutch Factory at Nagasaki, and rendered into French, after being duly
compared with the original by M. J. Klapworth--(printed for the Oriental
Translation Fund of Great Britain and Ireland; London, 1834). In the
account of the seven generations of the heavenly bodies, we are told
that "anciently the heaven and the earth were not distinct, nor was the
female principle then separated from the male. The chaos, having the
form of an egg, moved about like the waves of an agitated sea. The germs
of everything were there, and these ultimately divided, the pure and
transparent ones going upward to form heaven, whilst the dull and opaque
ones coagulated and formed the earth. Between the two a divine being
sprang up; he was followed by two others in succession." All these were
pure males, and engendered without consorts. After them came a male and
a female deity, but they had no intercourse with each other. These and
three other divine couples, who followed them, reproduced their like by
mutual contemplation. The last couple directed the "celestial spear
made of a red precious stone"--said by Japanese commentators to be
the phallus--into the world below, and stirred it up to the bottom. On
withdrawing the lance some drops fell from it and produced an island,
upon which the celestial couple descended. Each one then began to walk
in opposite directions around the isle, and when they met the feminine
spirit sang joyously--"I am delighted to find so handsome a young man."
But this vexed the male spirit, who, being a man, asserted that he ought
to have been allowed to speak the first. So they parted once more on
their solitary walk; and when they met the second time, the woman waited
to be spoken to. Then followed a conversation somewhat too coarse for
repetition, which was followed by corporeal union. From the intercourse
of these divine beings all creation sprang. But, after a time, the
partners reflected that there was still wanting a governor for the
world which they had engendered. So they again accoupled, and produced
a daughter so lovely, that her parents thought her too good for earth;
gave her the name of "the precious wisdom of the heavenly sun," and sent
her to heaven, there to assume the universal government of all things.
The parents once again united, and produced the moon, who was sent to
heaven to assist her sister. A terrible fellow was then born from them,
who represents the Devil, or those tempests which seem to oppose the
beneficent action of the sun upon the soil. The parents returned to
heaven, and there are constant contentions between the brother and
sister. The former is described as being furious under attempts at
control; generally, he was quiet, and always had tears in his eyes (dew
and rain), but sometimes, when provoked, he broke every thing, uprooted
trees, and set the mountain forests on fire. We need not pursue
the story further than to say that the celestial beings created a
terrestrial couple, whose children bear considerable resemblance to the
Greek Jupiter, Apollo, Neptune, and others, and from them came the first
Emperors of Japan. In the matter of evidence upon such a point as the
conception of a man without a woman, or a woman without a man, it is
clear that unsupported assertion is wholly valueless.

For example, I may for a time absent myself from general society, and
return to it again after a certain interval, having with me a child,
whom I assert to be my very own, produced by my own inherent power, just
as a tree produces a leaf which grows, matures, and falls. I may frame
a romantic account of a dream, in which I was told that if I planted
myself in the central bed of a certain garden, and contrived an
apparatus for daily watering my buried legs, that a child would sprout
from my right side, who should be to me as a daughter. Yet, however
ingenious my tale, there is not any one possessing sound sense and
knowledge who would believe me. In like manner, if a woman should tell a
story analogous, though not identical, she is certain to be discredited;
even the assertion of the existence of a divine father would not, if the
woman were unmated, save her character from a stain.

We may next refer to the legend of Prometheus, inasmuch as in many
points it resembles the Hebrew mythos so greatly, that we must imagine
they both have a common origin, or that the one is a copy--though
an indifferent one, of the other. Prometheus, or forethought, was
represented to be the first who made an ordinary man--he formed him
of clay, and then animated him with fire from heaven. The Jewish tale
asserts that it was Jehovah who made the first man. That man was first
formed like a statue out of clay or dust, and had no life until breath
was infused into his nostrils. In both stories man alone is formed
first. In the Grecian fable Prometheus does not make a consort for his
man; nay, he refuses to receive one for himself when the gods send
to him Pandora--a paragon of loveliness. Instead of this he gives the
damsel to Epimetheus--or after-thought--who takes her carelessly, and
finds that even a charming woman is not a guarantee against cares and
woes. Some accounts, however, say that Prometheus made both man and
woman out of clay.

The discrepancy does not signify much, for we see the same in Genesis,
wherein we are told in one place that man and woman were made together,
whilst in another the story runs that Adam preceded Eve, and that,
instead of being formed of dust or clay, the latter was formed of bone.

We may now refer to the story of Apollonius Tyaneus, whose history has
interest for us, inasmuch as it illustrates three important points, upon
which much stress has been, and may still be, laid by inquiring minds.
The most conspicuous is the propensity of historians, or, to speak
more correctly, of a biographer, to record wonderful things about an
extraordinary man; next the ridicule cast upon the tale by those who
have circulated stories equally improbable, and the indication that
travel to Hindostan was apparently common, prior to and during his time.
In sketching the life of the philosopher, I quote something from
_Le Dictionnaire Infernal_, and the rest from Smith's _Biographical
Dictionary_. The philosopher in question was born about 4 years B.C. His
history was written by Philostratus, about 100 years after the hero's
death, and is ostensibly founded upon memoirs left by his secretary,
Damis, an Assyrian, who accompanied Apollonius during his travels, and
recorded his discourses and prophecies, and acted much as Luke did with

Amongst the proofs which Damis gives of his veracity, he tells us that
when he and his master traversed the Caucasus, they saw the chains which
bound Prometheus, still fixed to the rocks. This bit of verification
is now derided, but in my school-days I recollect having an account put
into my hands, written by some author, stating that the remains of the
ark were still to be seen upon Mount Ararat.*

     * On the day before this was written there appeared in _The
     Telegraph_ a paragraph, to the effect that an Assyrian slab
     had been translated by Mr. Smith of the British Museum. The
     record is said to give an account of "the deluge," and it
     tallies nearly with that given by Berosus, recorded in my
     second volume.    It adds, however, that the ark was at that
     period in existence, and its wood and bitumen used as
     amulets. Singularly enough, the tale is supposed to confirm
     the bible legend, the writer of the paragraph never dreaming
     that it more certainly confirms the Babylonian or Assyrian
     origin of the book of Genesis. The other parts of this slab,
     which were wanting, have more recently been found. But there
     is no necessity for me to change the wording of the note.

There was also current a "Joe Miller" about some old woman, who would
not believe in flying-fish, which her sailor-boy had seen, but who
readily believed his tale of hooking up a chariot wheel on an anchor
fluke from the bottom of the Red Sea!

Dr. Smith, or Mr. Jowett, the author of the article, very judiciously
says--"We have purposely omitted the wonders with which Philostratus has
garnished his narrative.... _Many of these are curiously coincident with
the Christian miracles_--(the italics are our own). The proclamation of
the birth of Apollonius to his mother by Proteus, and the incarnation of
Proteus himself; the chorus of swans which sung for joy on the occasion,
the casting out of devils, the raising the dead and healing the
sick, the sudden disappearances and reappearances of Apollonius; his
adventures in the cave of Trophonius, and the sacred voice which called
him at his death--to which may be added his claim as a teacher, having
authority to reform the world--cannot fail to suggest the parallel
passages in the Gospel history." We learn, moreover, that the biographer
was high in favour with Alexander Severus, and that Eusebius of Caesarea
naively allows the truth of Philostratus' narrative in the main, with
the exception of what is miraculous. None of the authors quoted seem
to think of the adage--"Change but the names, and the same classes of
wonders are a matter of faith to you." Surely it is as easy to credit
the strange deeds of Proteus as those of Gabriel.

Whether we choose to adopt the hypothesis that Apollonius was a rival
of Jesus, that the Nazarene and Tyanean were independent of each other,
that the evangelists took a hint from Damis, or Philostratus imitated
Luke in more ways than one, we have still the fact that two different
biographers, giving a history of the life of two contemporary
individuals, assert that the birth of their respective heroes was
announced by a divine being, who himself brought about the conception
of the infant that, on arriving at maturity, was held to be divine.
In writing thus, it will be distinctly understood that we draw no
comparison between Jesus and Apollonius, but only between the authors
who have undertaken their respective biography.

Leaving this curious point, the next noteworthy one is that Philostratus
records, that the Tyanean went through Assyria, Babylonia, and Bactria,
to India, "where he met Jarchus, the chief of the Brahmins, and disputed
with Indian gymnosophists _already versed in Alexandrian philosophy_."
I have placed these last words in italics, to call attention to the
apparent belief of the historian, that prior to his day there had been
extensive religious communication between India and Greece--a point on
which I have much insisted in a previous chapter. The Tyanean is said to
have been five years upon his eastern journey. We have no idea where the
Nazarene was during his youth and before he began his public career, and
we cannot help regarding the omission to notice this part of his life as
being blameworthy in the evangelists. Those who knew so much of Jesus at
his conception, and about his birth and infancy, could surely, if they
would, have informed us of his adult years.

Nor, _à propos_ to this short account of the biography of Apollonius, by
Damis and Philostratus, must we omit to notice the conceits of those
who have assumed that the Tyanean was set up as a counterfoil to, or an
imitator of, Jesus of Nazareth; for, just as the Christians may, with
some show of reason, affirm that the miracles recorded in their writings
have been filched by others; so may the Buddhist, with still greater
plausibility, declare that the greatest part of the life of the
Nazarene, as given in the Gospels, has been copied almost verbatim from
the biographers or evangelists of the Indian saga For myself, I consider
that the miraculous parts of the history of all the three conspicuous
men which have been named are equally true or--false.

The idea of attributing to the Supreme God the birth, or, rather, the
procreation, of an extraordinary man, seems, so far as we can judge, to
have existed in the Western Hemisphere as well as in the Eastern. For
example, in an interesting book, entitled _New Tracks in North America_,
by W. A. Bell, M.A., M.B., Cantab; London, 1869, we find the following
legend respecting Montezuma, the most popular ruler of the ancient
Mexicans. The legend is intended to explain the occurrence of vast ruins
amongst the Pima Indians, of which other history is silent, and runs
thus: "Long ago a woman of exquisite beauty ruled over the valleys and
the region south of them. Many suitors came from far to woo her, and
brought presents innumerable of corn, skins, and cattle to lay at her
feet. Her virtue and determination to continue unmarried remained alike
unshaken, and her store of worldly possessions so greatly increased,
that, when drought and desolation came upon her land, she fed her people
out of her great abundance, and did not miss it, there was so much left.
One night, as she lay asleep, her garment was blown from off her breast,
and a dew drop from the Great Spirit fell upon her bosom, entered her
blood, and caused her to conceive. In time she bore a child, who was
none other than Montezuma, who built the large 'Casas,' and all the
other ruins which are scattered through the land" (vol. i. p. 199).

It is allowable for the reader to doubt whether there ever was a Mexican
Queen whose renown was spread far and wide, who preferred celibacy to
marriage, and who, being rich, was not plundered by the chiefs whose
alliance was rejected. We may equally doubt the efficacy of a drop
of water, even though it came from the Great Celestial Spirit; but,
notwithstanding every objection which the most sceptical can advance,
the legend is quite as probable as those current amongst the ancient
Greeks, the religious Hindoos, and a large portion of modern Christians.
A miracle, always improbable, is not necessarily true because it is said
to have occurred in the old world, or indubitably false because it is
reported to have happened in the new. Nor can one who regards faith as
superior to reason, refuse to believe or to question the truth of
any supernatural story simply because he was not told it during his
childhood or youth.

When the philosophical inquirer finds that in every country, with whose
literature we are familiar, there are, not only abundance of tales
about supernatural generation before the world was formed, but from
the earliest periods of history to our own day, he may well pause
and inquire into the intrinsic value of a religion or a faith that is
founded mainly, if not wholly, upon the assertion that a certain person
was the son of the Supreme Creator, and being so, has the qualities of
his sire as well as those of his human mother. The orthodox in Britain
do not believe in Cristna, Krishna, or Vishnu, because the Hindoo sacred
books declare that he has appeared repeatedly as an incarnation of
the Creator--nor do they credit the tales told of the supernatural
generation of Bacchus or Hercules--yet, when they are asked what
stronger evidence they have for the truth of their own story, they are
unable to give more than affirmations, strong, perhaps, but not more so
than those of ancient Hellenic priests.

It is out of my province, now, to enter into every thing connected
with the doctrine held by those who are known as Trinitarians. My
main endeavour in this part of my subject is to clear the way for
"reconstruction." It is my desire to give to those who have not the
leisure, or, perhaps, the inclination, to wade through the dull tomes of
theological, mythological, and similar books, an account of what is and
has been entertained as religious belief by others, with whom, or with
whose opinions, they have not come in contact. I have no special wish to
prove that my opinions are right and the prevailing ones wrong; my chief
aim is to give data by which others may form a judgment for themselves.
With this view I have systematically endeavoured to satisfy myself of
the trustworthiness of the witnesses whom I call upon to testify to
facts; to my knowledge, nothing has been suppressed which seems to me to
bear upon my subject, nor is aught set down in malice.

In my next chapter I shall institute an inquiry into another important
doctrine, held by Christians from their first existence until the
present day, namely, the Existence and Ministration of Angels. Since the
chapter was originally written, Dr. Kalisch has published an essay upon
the same subject in the second part of his commentary upon Leviticus.
I shall probably take the liberty of quoting from his pages; but, as
we treat the matter from different points of view, I do not feel called
upon to suppress my own work because he has preceded me. It gives me
pleasure to feel and to know that fellow-workers in the same toilsome
task, not only may help each other, but rejoice in the opportunity of so


     Angels. The ideas associated therewith. Why winged. Wishing-
     caps. Jehovah and His Angels made to walk by the historian.
     The belief in Angels incompatible with that of an
     omnipresent and omniscient God. Pictorial representations.
     Absurd conceptions of angelic wings. Angela want birds'
     tails. Men have tried to fly. Difference between birds and
     men. Arms and wings. A writer at fault about this world is
     not to be trusted in his accounts of another. Bats and
     similar mammals. The Devil better winged than Michael--Yet
     Satan, a roaring lion, goes about as a bull with bat's
     wings. Angels and beetles. Harmony in creation. Strange idea
     of spirits. Spiritualism. Varieties of angelic forms. Not
     the products of lunacy. Angels and demigods. Egyptian ideas.
     Assyrian notions. Christian fancies. Birds and Men united in
     human celestialism. Persian Angels. Mithra winged. Angels in
     Persia twelve in number. Job, the work of a Persian Jew.
     Angels referred to therein. Darius had a consecrated table.
     Babylonian belief. Daniel. Greece and Rome. Gods, Demigods,
     Angels, and Saints. Christian demigods. Angels' duties.
     Book-keeping, clerks of wind and weather;--police-agents.
     The inventor of Heaven admired centralization. Babylonian
     tutelary Angels. Christian ones. Christian saintly imagery.
     The bleeding heart of Mary. A funny Chaldean goddess to
     match. Popish saints have an aureole, but no wings. Francis
     of Assisi could make stigmata but could not change his arms
     into pinions. Babylonian and Papal emblems identical
     Development of Angels amongst the Jews in Babylon. Angelic
     mythology founded upon Astronomy and Astrology. Planets are
     Archangels. Angels and Devils mentioned on bowls found in
     Mesopotamia by Layard. The probable meaning of their names.
     Hebrews adopted Chaldee beliefs: evidence. Juvenal. Jews and
     Chaldeans. Sadducees and Pharisees. Sadducees and our
     Reformers compared. A legal anecdote. Angels in Ancient
     Italy. Our angelic forms are of Etruscan origin. Some such
     beings had three pairs of wings. Etruscans had guardian
     angels for infants and children. Angels carry various
     matters. Angels of marriage. Angels for heirs of salvation.
     Etruscan angel of marriage. Jewish match-maker. Raphael.
     Description of an Etruscan painting in tomb of Tarquin. The
     angel of death. The Greek theology. The Greeks taught the
     Jews. The Jews never taught other nations. Greeks had a
     supreme god and a host of inferior deities. War in heaven.
     Titans--giants. Children of the sons of God and daughters of
     men. Greek origin of Christian and Miltonian angelic
     mythology. The begotten Son of God (Hercules born to Jupiter
     by Alcmena). Restores the kingdom to his father. Greek ideas
     of demons. Hebrew and Christian ideas of good and bad
     spirits. The recording angel. Demigods and archangels. Greek
     deities not winged except Mercury. Some minor gods have
     pinions.--Pegasus has wings. Hymen, the angel of the
     covenant of marriage. Genius loci and cherubim. Alcmena and
     Mary. Jupiter and "the power of the Highest" Roman
     mythology. Romans adopted the Etruscan form of angels.
     Christians adopted it from Romans. The Christian crozier is
     the Etruscan and Roman _lituus_, or "divining staff." Rome
     and London both avid of religious novelty. Instability in
     religion a proof of infidelity in the old. Hence a desire
     for infallibility, to crush doubt. Angelic mythology of the
     Bible. Christians use words in parrot fashion. Words ought
     not to stand for ideas. Prayer-cylinder in Thibet.
     Contradictions. Figures and metaphors are theologian cities
     of refuge. Prophet who says that he converses with an angel-
     -is he to be credited? A spirit without flesh and bones,
     cannot move his tongue to utter words. Drunkards see "blue
     devils"--they are unreal If the appearance of a man in a
     dream is an illusion, his words are so too. Absurd ideas
     about phantoms. Notice of the deeds of a few Hebrew angels.
     A resume of their history. Inspiration did not reveal
     angels. Human fancy did. Conspiracy in Heaven! The Genesis
     of Hell. What sort of a place it is supposed to be. God made
     the Devil, so man must multiply his imps! Lucifer taught
     Elohim! Old Testament less knowing than the New. The Devil
     not a fallen angel. The book of Enoch. Deductions drawn.

There is scarcely a single article in our current belief which does not
prove, on examination, to have descended to us from Pagan sources, or to
be identical with heathen beliefs older than the Hebrew. The idea of a
personal God dwelling in some locality, vaguely described as "Heaven,"
in which He reigns, and rules, like a modern emperor, has been found to
exist in almost every nation whose language we know, and whose history
has descended to us. Human weakness makes it so. Such a ruler has been
called Brahma, Siva, Vishnu, Mahadeva, Bel or Baal, Melech or Moloch,
Ormazd, Elohim, Jah, Jehovah, Jupiter, Yahu, God, and a variety of other
names; but He has always been hailed as king, and lord of all creation,
having a throne beside which attend a number of servitors, standing
before and around him, all ready to do his bidding and to go wherever
they are sent. As a potentate rules on earth over provinces far distant
from the central government, so the heavenly monarch was, and is yet,
supposed to have "viceroys," "lieutenants," or "vicars," who have
authority delegated to them, and exercise it under his superintendence.

A scheme such as we have described does not seem to have existed from
the first amongst the Jews; for, when men of reasoning powers conceived
the idea of a Creator, He was regarded as omnipotent, omniscient, and
omnipresent. It became gradually interwoven with theology; for when men
of limited capacity thought of such a vast empire as the universe, they,
under the influence of a grovelling anthropomorphism, recognized, as
they imagined, the necessity of furnishing it with a system of acquiring
intelligence, and promulgating decrees which should be far superior to
any postal plan devised by human kings. Amongst the Kaffirs, men with
missives race against time, and by means of relays, messages are sent
to vast distances in a comparatively short period. By means of horses,
skilfully engaged beforehand, an ancient Persian tyrant could make his
commands known all over his vast empire in the course of a few days,
and moderns, by means of railways and the electric wire, can forward
information at a still more rapid rate.

Yet, to old theologians, and even to observant men of the present day,
all these means of communication between God and his subjects seemed to
be slow. We may, for example, notice a fly buzzing round the head of
the running Kaffir, or the ears of the fleetest of Persian steeds, and
a swallow on the wing outstrips a railway express. The velocity of the
carrier-pigeon has long been known. All these were, therefore, regarded
as swift-winged creatures, and fit for message bearers. As then, it was
observed, that of all beings who could move, the bird is the swiftest
in its movement from place to place, it was very natural that dogmatists
should represent the messengers of the great king with powerful pinions,
like those of the eagle or the albatross. In this manner the addition
of wings to any mythological character sufficed to show that he who bore
them was a celestial being; one who stood before the supreme ruler,
and received from him delegated power--either as vicar, viceroy, or
messenger. Thus the Greeks depicted Mercury with wings on his legs
and elsewhere, and the Hebrews gave large pinions to their
seraphim--sometimes as many as six being used by each (Isa. vi. 2.)
The Etruscans pictured their angels with two wings only, and we have
followed, implicitly, their lead. But the Hindoos did not in early times
adopt ideas such as this. They noticed the speed of the sunbeam, the
velocity of the hurricane, and the rapidity of thought; and since they
saw many birds borne away by the wind, they imagined that celestial
messengers must travel in a corresponding fashion. For one who rode upon
the clouds of the typhoon, pinions were useless. I have in my possession
a plate,* in which the celestial attendants on the god are all wingless,
but have sex. The name given to the attendants referred to is "Apsaras,"
who are described as having been produced in myriads when the ocean was
churned. They are said to reside between the waters above the firmament
and those below it, and are represented as being of consummate beauty
and elegance of form, their business being to attend upon the gods and
give them pleasure, by singing, music, dancing, and in every possible
way. They are sometimes represented as being of both sexes, all having
the power to change their gender. Generally, they are described as
females, and take the business of Venus in the Greek heaven, and of the
Houris in that provided by Mahomet and his followers. The Hindoos have
in their theology an abode of bliss, in which the pleasures are wholly
sensual. In this they do not differ from the Christians, except that the
latter only expect to indulge in music and a sanctified vengeance.

     * Plate x., vol. 1, "Recherches sur l'origine, &c., des Arts
     de la Grèce," D'Harcanville, London, 1785. The author states
     that the plate is copied from Le Voyage de Niebuhr, T. 1,
     Tab. vi.

With great ingenuity the Hebrews conceived that the will of God must
be equivalent to His wish--that His wish must be the same as a command,
and, consequently, that He could send His messenger from one spot
to another in an instant; or, if He chose, He could go Himself and
communicate personally, as He did with Abraham, Jacob, and Moses, and
Joshua. For such a Being even light would be too slow (see Psalm xviii.
10; civ. 3, 4).

From a similar thought arose the stories which have found their way into
our fairy mythology of "wishing caps" which would enable the bearer to
pass in an instant of time, and wholly invisibly, from one part of the
world to another. In oriental countries, a carpet or a coat was the
carrying agent, whilst amongst the more clumsy story-tellers of Europe,
a pair of boots was furnished, whose wearer could cover twenty miles at
a stride.

In the plenitude of our prejudice we may smile at the caprice which
invented the "wishing cap;" but if we reflect calmly upon the matter,
we discover more depth of thought in this than has been shown in the
formation of tales in which winged angels are introduced. The contrast
will readily be recognized if we take a scene from "Fortunatus," and
another from the Old Testament The former, by putting on a cap, could
transport himself in a moment from Formosa to Great Britain. Whereas
we learn, from Genesis xviii, that three angelic men took "a walk" from
somewhere to Sodom, that they might see what sort of a place it really
was. The hero in the fairy tale was not fatigued; the angels of the
Hebrew mythology were glad to wash their feet, and to eat and drink, so
as to recruit their energies (v. 8; Ps. lxxviii. 25.) A mythical
tale like this demonstrates incontestably the mean condition of the
story-teller, who does not furnish Jehovah even with a mule or ass, but
makes Him go afoot.

We must, therefore, regard the theological contrivance which furnished
angels with wings, as being a clumsy one; indicating superficiality,
rather than profound thought, and emanating from human infirmity rather
than divine inspiration or direct revelation. We shall see this more
distinctly if we inquire into the ideas necessarily associated with

The theologians who have furnished their ideal messengers with wings
show, in the first place, that they have the idea of an air upon which
the sails can strike--of muscular structures to move the pinions, and
of the necessity for food to enable the motive power to be kept up. The
idea of a winged angel, therefore, necessarily implies a belief in the
presence of a solid material body moving through an aeriform fluid,
resembling the atmosphere just above the earth's surface. That there
really was this belief associated with celestial messengers we find
in the Jewish scriptures, wherein it is stated, as if it were a common
occurrence, that angels came to talk familiarly with men; as, for
example, Gen. xviii, xix., xxxii.; and Judges i., where we are told
that an angel came from Gilgal to Bochim, to deliver a statement, to the
Hebrews, such as a silly girl at Lourdes asserted the Virgin Mary had
come from Heaven to make to her; see also Judges xiii., and the book of

That angels were, moreover, supposed to possess thews and sinews, we
find from Gen. xxxii. 24-30, wherein we are told that some celestial
being wrestled with Jacob, but could not prevail against him. In a
previous chapter, although it is only in a dream, Jacob saw them mount
and descend a ladder as if their wings--if they then had them--were

We shall not now be far from the truth, if we affirm that winged
messengers, envoys, or angels, can only be supposed to exist by
individuals whose god is nothing more than a man without universal power
and knowledge. To any one who believes God to be omnipresent, the idea
of His having ambassadors, or vicars upon earth, is blasphemous.

The comparative coarseness of those minds which fabricated the notion
of winged men, as celestial messengers, will be the more certainly
recognised, if we examine into the pictorial conception which they have
permitted, and still allow, to pass, for the embodiment of their idea.
Let me, for example, invite the reader to cast his mental eye over the
winged men-like bulls, &c., of Assyria and Babylonia; the winged genii
of the ancient Egyptians; the winged soul and angel of Death of the
Etruscans; the angels of ancient and modern Christian painters; and the
pinioned heads which came from the walls to listen to the music of Saint
Cecilia--according to Papal legends--and then to try to discover the
locality of the muscular organs which are necessary to give movement to
the wings. Everybody who has ever carved, at his dinner-table, a grouse,
partridge, pheasant, duck, or other fowl, must be aware of the enormous
mass of flesh which is associated with the wings. If we bare the breast
and remove the pinion bones from any bird which flies--(it is necessary
to make this proviso, for such as the dodo, the aptéryx, the ostrich,
emu, and others, have wings which are only rudimentary, and not used for
flight)--we find but a very meagre body remaining behind. Hence we see
the necessity of furnishing an imaginary angel which has wings with
muscles that will enable the pinions to be used; but in no pictorial
representation of an angelic messenger do we ever find the ordinary
figure of a man departed from, or any provision made for muscles to
move the feathered organs. And we must notice, in passing, that it is
monstrous to suppose that a man must become, in part, a bird ere he can
be useful to a god!

Again, we recognize in the conventional form of angels a total absence
of knowledge of natural history, of gravity, of force, &c. Let us, for
example, imagine for a moment that the metaphorical wings are real ones
used in flight. We see directly that they will only raise the individual
perpendicularly into the air. The angelic human creature, even if his
wings were--as they ought to do--to replace his arms, would still lack
a tail, to use as a rudder to direct his flight. It is clear, then, that
no one has seen an angel, and that those who have pretended to have done
so, were deeply ignorant men. To make our observations upon this point
somewhat more comprehensible, we may just refer to the fact that many
individuals, misled apparently by the mass of ideal celestial men--or
angels--which are to be seen in almost every cathedral or parish church
in Europe, have conceived the idea that they could fly, if only they
could contrive the necessary apparatus to append to their arms, legs,
or both; in other words, many men have fancied that they could do better
for themselves than nature has done for them. But a few minutes' calm
thought would teach any one familiar with the composition of forces,
that an attempt at the imitation of a bird's flight must be a failure in
man. Let me show this by a simple observation: A bird extends its wings,
and by a strong stroke towards its own body, rises into the air, though
neither solid nor rigid, both wings and air have apparently been so. In
imitation of this bird, we will now suppose that a man places himself,
with arms outspread, like the letter T between two uprights, forming
something like the letter U.

The individual would then be represented thus [J]--unlike the bird,
his _point d' appui_ would be solid, and his arms would be far more
unyielding than feathers. Yet not one athlete in a million could spring
upwards, so as to stand upon the summit of the U. Man's "pectoral
muscles"--as physiologists call the mass of flesh below the collar bone
and above the nipple--are intended to move the arm; the bird's pectoral
muscles are intended to move the body. Cut off a man's arms and
pectorals--the counterpart of the bird's wings and fleshy breast--and he
has barely lost a tenth part of his weight; on the other hand, cut off
the corresponding parts of a bird, i.e.t the pinions and the muscles
which move them, and not a tenth part of the original weight is left
behind. Speaking coarsely, we may then affirm that man's body is
relatively about a hundred times heavier--air being the standard--than
that of a bird, and his pectoral muscles, relatively to his body, a
hundred times less in bulk. Consequently, even if a human being could,
by muscular action, develop the bulk of his "pectorals," so that they
should be relatively to the rest of his frame, equal to those of a
bird, still his bulk would be so much more solid than that of the bird's
bones, flesh, and feathers, that his power of flight would be a hundred
times less. A man, with the exception of his lungs, is in health, solid
or fluid, in every part of him; a bird's bones, on the contrary, are
everywhere permeated by air cavities, which make them as light as pith
or cotton wool. A pound of lead and a pound of feathers are certainly
equal in weight, yet, if both are allowed to drop from a balloon, the
first will reach the ground a long time before the second. In like
manner, by contrivance, I could with my breath sustain an ounce of
eiderdown in the air, although I am quite powerless to sustain, by like
means, the same quantity of solid meat. I say nothing of the relative
position of the shoulder-joint in man and birds--although the point is
physiologically important.

Again, we may assert that the originators of the angelic mythology were
absolutely ignorant of that which is called comparative anatomy. We
have already expressed our belief that no one has a right to expect that
people will believe in the reality of a man's knowledge respecting
the unseen world, so long as he is palpably at fault in his notions
respecting the visible creation. Consequently we assert that one who
is careless as regards actual phenomena and ignorant of common truths,
cannot be trusted in metaphorical, mythological, or divine lore.

A comparatively small amount of observation proves to us that amongst
the highest classes of animal life, the wing is the counterpart of the
arm or of the fore-leg. In the creature called the "flying squirrel,"
there is no pinion as there is in the "condor,"--there is simply an
unusual development of skin which unites the fore and hind limbs much in
the same way as the web unites together the toes of the goose or duck.
In the bat, which, though a mammal, is allied, as regards its power of
flight, to the birds, we find that the fore-leg is developed so as to
make a bony frame on which a thin skin may be stretched, which is still
farther strengthened by being attached to the hind leg. In the ordinary
bird, the skin which we see in the bat and flying squirrel is replaced
by feathers, which are longer, broader, and lighter than a fold of skin.
The ordinary method, therefore, in which angelic beings are depicted
does not associate them with the highest classes of animal life.
Our modern artists are much more skilful in depicting Satan than in
pourtraying Raphael, Gabriel, or Michael.

Our last remarks would be comparatively unimportant, were it not that
the close observation which the moderns have given, to every thing
connected with natural history, has shown us that there is a harmony
throughout creation. No animals have noses on their backs, nor eyes in
their hind legs. No insect--so far as I can remember--has a thick neck;
nor has any mammal or bird a thin one, like the wasp, bee, or fly. As we
imagine that it is proper to extend our knowledge rather by the lights
which we have already attained, than by silly or hap-hazard guessing, so
we think that it is better to investigate the subject of angelic forms
by comparative anatomy, than by the dreams of divines, who probably have
never studied any other subject than the best means of gaining influence
over their fellow-mortals. We assert that there is not in all the
creation, known to man, any creature with arms and legs--or their
equivalents, legs and wings, or fore-legs and hind legs--which has, in
addition, wings upon arms, legs, head, or back. In such a combination
there is something monstrous. I confess that I could, if satisfactory
evidence were given, credit the occurrence of a devil with a tail--of a
centaur with a horse's body and a human head--but I could not possibly
believe that Satan went about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he could
devour in the dress of a bull with bat-like wings, as well as horns and
hoofs; or that an angel of God approaches us in a form nearer to the
scarabseus of Egypt than to the human form divine. Yet when we say that
a pictorial angel approaches nearer to a beetle that revels in
filth, than to an etherial essence which ought to be very close upon
perfection, we are still far from precision. Ladybirds, cockchafers, and
others of the class allied to the scarabseus that was almost deified
in Egypt, have six legs, two wings, and two wing cases--ten means of
locomotion in all. Butterflies, moths, and the like, have six legs and
two wings. Consequently, if there be any design in creation, and angels
have been created, they can only be regarded as the connecting link
between the highest and the lowest classes of animal life.

If then, there be such a thing as harmony of design in Creation--if the
Creator be not the author of confusion (1 Cor. xiv. 33)--if matter be
material, and imponderable forces cannot be weighed or made otherwise
recognisable by the senses, except by their effects--if the Almighty be
omnipresent and omniscient, it is absolutely impossible for a thoughtful
mind to believe in the existence of angels in any shape--whether
material, immaterial, or essential. But this consideration forces us
still further, and we feel compelled to ask ourselves, whether, with
our minds constituted as they are, we can believe in, or understand
any thing wholly immaterial? Whether we can imagine the existence, for,
example, of "force" without matter?--a shape which is formless?--a form
visible to the eye, yet wholly immaterial?

It seems to me to be desirable, at the present day, to call attention to
this point in a particular manner, inasmuch as there are vast numbers,
both in Europe and America, who believe in what is called Spiritualism,
and are, in reality, as greatly the dupes of charlatans as were the
disciples of Alexander the false prophet, whose history we gave in vol.
II. The jargon of these pretenders is based upon the assertion in the
Bible that there are spirits--the accounts of certain of these returning
to the earth which they have quitted, or conversing with human beings in
dreams, or in reality. But both they and their victims fail to see that
a spirit, being without a material existence, cannot put matter into
motion--it cannot produce the waves in the ether that cause those
impressions on eye and ear which give the idea of sight and sound.
We may best give our reader a glimpse of our meaning, if we compare a
spirit to a picture projected on a sheet by a magic lantern. It is true
that we can see it--yet we know that it is powerless to hear, to speak,
to move; it cannot of itself even vanish. Yet there are many onlookers
who, by a ventriloquist, can be made to believe that the picture speaks.

After prolonged observation, I believe that spirits, angels, demons, &c.,
have no reality except in the delusions of individuals whose diseased
brains induce them to believe that they see apparitions and hear them
speak. To this matter we shall probably return by and by.

We may now revert to a subject which we mentioned incidentally a few
pages back--viz., the ideas which induced priestly inventors to depict
the angels of their imagination in a particular form. Those who are
familiar with the Bible, and not with any other book, and who decline to
examine into the ways of God in the universe generally, will naturally
reply to our strictures that the angels of the Jews were described in
a particular fashion, because they were seen "in the visions of Elohim"
(Ezek. i. 1; Dan. x. 5, 6; and Rev. i. 10-20). But this observation
involves the idea that the angels which have appeared are so various
in shape, that an individual who had seen and described one, could not
enable another man to recognize a similar messenger when seen under
another form. In Genesis xviii, xix., xxxii., and Judges xiii, angels
assume the form of men; in Isaiah vi. they have six wings--one pair being
used to cover the face, another to cover the feet, and another to
fly with. To this it may be objected that what Isaiah described were
seraphim; yet verse 6 shows that one of these, at least, was a messenger
or envoy. In Ezekiel i. we find an apparent description of angels, or an
envoy, which is so involved that it is most difficult to understand it.
In Daniel x. an archangel is described as a brilliant man whose body was
like the beryl--_tarshish_--a stone of a sea-green colour probably; or,
possibly, a topaz, "whose eyes were like lightning, and whose arms and
feet were like polished brass, and whose loins were girded with fine
gold"--as if to conceal his sex--a characteristic which we find, from
Matt. xxii. 30, angels do not possess. The writer's description must,
therefore, be classed with that of afreets, genii, and the like, in the
_Arabian Nights_ tales. In Zechariah, again, we find an angel or envoys
described (ch. i.)--(a), "as a man riding upon a red horse," having
behind him "red horses, speckled and white" (v. 8); (6), as "four horns"
(vv. 18,19); (c), as "four carpenters" (w. 20, 21.) Again, in chap, v.,
we find an angel in "a flying roll;" another in "an ephah;" another in
a big piece of lead, and another in a woman, and still another in two
beings of the same nature.

We can readily understand that some who are unacquainted with lunatics,
would describe these portraitures as the result of insanity or
hallucination; but those who are more conversant with persons of unsound
mind will doubt whether any ordinary insane persons ever see or describe
things which they have never met with. One or two, certainly, have
wonderful flights of imagination, but these have been highly educated
men of extensive reading, &c. In mania, when visions are seen, some
person or other whose description has been read by the lunatic, or who
has really been observed, appears--or something which the individual has
seen depicted, or otherwise been told of, presents itself, or there is
a strange jumble of reality and possibility--just as in dreams,
comical, grotesque, or horrible combinations are common, and cause us no
surprise. There is, however, too much consistency in the method in which
angels are depicted, to enable us to believe that their form was decided
by any lunatic or dreamer.

We scarcely can form an idea whether the Egyptians had a definite belief
in angels, as the word is understood by moderns. With them, as it was
with the Greeks, it is most probable that all beings which Jews
and Christians alike would call angels, were designated "gods" or
"demigods." Be this as it may, we find that the Mizraim had deities who
wore wings. A round disc, apparently intended to represent the sun, two
erected serpents to support it, and a long broad pinion on each side of
the body, was symbolic of "the Supreme." The same may be said to be true
of Assyria and Persia--only that in the symbolism of the two last,
the serpents did not, generally, appear. In plate 30a, of Wilkinson's
_Ancient Egyptians, 2d series_, a human figure is represented as winged,
and before him is a five-rayed star. In plate 35 of the same book, Isis
is represented as a nude woman, winged; the position of one pinion being
such that it serves to conceal the body from the waist almost to
the knees. In plate 36, "Athor" is depicted as being attended by a
human-headed bird. On the other hand, in plate 39, where the gods are
instructing the king in the use of the bow, the former are bird-headed
men without wings. Whilst in plate 44, the soul of a dying man is
represented as a human-headed bird with wings, arms, and legs. In plates
52, 53 of the same work, we notice specimens of winged serpents. In
plate 63, Isis again appears as a wing bearer, and in this figure we
find, as we ought to do, that the feathers of the pinions are attached
to the arms of the goddess.

In Assyria, we may gather from the sculptures which have been preserved,
that there was not any idea of angels being essentially different to
gods. Indeed, it is very difficult wherever there is a polytheism in any
form, to understand the distinction between a god and an angel Even in
the religion which passes current as "the Christian," which acknowledges
three gods as "coeternal together and coequal," we are distinctly
told that one of the three "proceeds" from the father and the son
(_Athanasian Creed_). The New Testament, again, repeatedly informs
us that the son was "sent" into this world by his father to effect a
special purpose--e.g.t "God sent his only begotten son into the world,
that we might live through him" (1 John iv. 9; see also John iii. 16, 17;
Matt. xxi. 37; Mark xii. 4; John v. 38; vi. 29; vii. 28, 29; and compare
with John i. 33 and Mal.iii. 1-3). If, therefore, we regard the bearer
of a message or an order from the supreme king as an "angel," Jesus of
Nazareth was certainly one, inasmuch as he said that he was sent hither
by the father of all; and the Holy Ghost was another, for we find John
(xv. 26) stating that Jesus would send him to the earth--an assertion
repeated in chap, xvi. 7--whilst in the fourteenth chapter of the same
book we observe that the father was to send this comforter, who was
to abide in this world for ever (v. 16). Indeed, the presumed
identification of Jesus with the promised Messiah, "the prince" of Dan.
ix. 25, shows the belief that he was one who was as much appointed to
do a certain duty as was that "angel of death" which went out to destroy
the Assyrian army (2 Kin. xix. 35).

With such indicated reservation, we notice that the angel which the gods
sent to watch over various Assyrian kings is depicted almost invariably
with wings. Now he is an archer, standing in a disc representing the
sun, having wings below him; now he stands in front of the circle, the
pinions and sometimes his body terminating in feathers resembling a
bird's expanded tail. Then, again, the minor divinities bear wings, some
of them no less than four (Bonomi's _Nineveh_, 2d ed. p. 157). It would
be superfluous to linger over a description of the winged bulls with
human heads, and the winged men with eagle or hawks' faces, which are
so familiar to us in consequence of the researches of Layard and others.
All alike bear testimony to the connection, in human celestialism,
between birds and men. Nor can we reasonably doubt, that the idea
intended to be conveyed by the inventor of the Assyrian composition
which we refer to was, that the being, thus symbolized, was famous for
strength like the bull; for rapidity of movement, like the eagle; and
for wisdom, like a man.

There is to be found amongst the relics of the ancient Persians a symbol
of an angel who was supposed specially to guard the king. This somewhat
resembles that used at Nineveh. There are, however, many forms of it.
For example, we find in Hyde's _De Religione veterum Persarum_ (Table
6) a figure of a Persepolitan king, above whom, in the air, and quite
distinct from the sun, stands a venerable man fully draped, standing
upon what seems to be a large pine cone reversed, which is surrounded
by clouds instead of being furnished with wings. The man thus depicted
extends the forefinger of one hand to the sun, whilst with the other
he holds a ring. In Table 6 Mithra is represented as winged, after the
modern fashion of angels.

Hyde assures us, in chapter twelve, that twelve angels were recognized
by the ancient Persians, in addition to those who presided over the
months and days. One of these appears to be the same as the Greek
Rhadamanthus, who sat as supreme judge in the invisible world, and
apportioned to the dead their rewards or punishments. A second was
equivalent to Neptune and ruled the sea, but he had also under his
charge everything which related to generation, or production generally.
The third was much the same as the more modern Lares and Penates, and
superintended dwelling-houses and families. The fourth had a somewhat
similar and subordinate office. The fifth was named after the stars, and
had his kingdom in the south heavens. The sixth the learned author does
not describe. The seventh really seems to be a sort of duplicate angel,
called Haruts and Maruts, who were two naughty ones that rebelled, and
are, according to some, imprisoned still in Babylon, being hung up by
the heels. The eighth, Hyde is himself doubtful about, and does not
describe. The ninth is the same as the German "storm-king." The tenth
may fairly be styled the "angel of the victualling department." The
eleventh is the giver of life, the opponent of Azrael, the minister of
death; and the twelfth angel is one which we may call either by the name
of "conscience" or "judgment" for he it is who approves or reprobates
the works of man.

Though I quote from Hyde, I am somewhat doubtful of the value of his
authority. He relies to a considerable extent upon the work known as the
"Zend Avesta," and supposed to represent the tenets of Zoroaster and his
followers. This book is, as I have mentioned, generally believed to be
a genuine relic of antiquity by Continental scholars, though it is
mistrusted by British orientalists, who regard it as a modern production
founded upon Aryanism, Christianity, and Maho-metanism. In my judgment,
my compatriots are right; and if it be proper to trust such a man as
Sir H. Rawlinson in the matter of the "Avesta," one may be pardoned for
believing with him that the book of Job was written by a Persian Jew, or
translated by a Hebrew from a work in the time of Darius, or some other
of the Achœmenidæ.

In Job angels are only once mentioned--viz., in chap. iv. 18, and then
they are spoken of in such a way, that we are doubtful whether or not
to regard the verse simply as a poetic metaphor. The idea which runs
through the part of the chapter in which the passage occurs is this:
"Job, you are suffering; the innocent do not perish; the righteous are
not cut off; you have been very proper; man has nothing to say against
you; but you are not right in accusing God of injustice; you doubtless
have done some wrong, for even God's servants are not wholly trusted;
they sometimes misbehave unknowingly, and his own angels are called
perverse by him (Job iv. 18); you cannot expect to be better than they,
and it is no shame to you to be in the same category as they are."

But it must be allowed that the words of the story--"There was a day
when the sons of God came to present themselves before the Lord, and
Satan came also among them; and the Lord said unto Satan, Whence comest
thou? Then Satan answered the Lord, and said, From going to and fro in
the earth, and from walking up and down in it"--do really intimate
a full belief in good angels and bad, who were not so much angels,
messengers, or envoys, as subordinate powers resembling the barons of
ancient England, the Paladins of Charlemagne, or the kings created by
Buonaparte; amongst whom all were, so to speak, "good angels," except
Bernadotte, of Sweden, who rebelled against the imperial thraldom, and
became to his late master a modern satan. In whichever way we regard the
subject of angels, amongst the Persians there is little doubt that
the Iranian conception of God was wholly anthropomorphic, and that
the Medians and their magi, as well as their Persian neighbours,
acknowledged a "father of lies," who was antagonistic to the deity.*

     * Quintus Curtius informs us (_Life of Alexander the Great_,
     b. v. a ii.) that Darius had in Babylon a consecrated table,
     from which he used to eat; that Alexander began to be
     ashamed of his sacrilege in treading upon it--(it had been
     placed as a footstool for his imperial chair)--the sacrilege
     being against the gods presiding over hospitality, carved
     upon the table. These may be regarded as angels or
     otherwise, according to fancy.

Our knowledge of the angelic mythology of Babylonia is comparatively
slight. The main thing which shrouds the subject in darkness is the
difficulty which exists to distinguish between god, gods, and angels. If
we could put any confidence in the book of Daniel, we should recognize
therefrom that his "Nebuchadnezzar" most distinctly believed in the
existence of angels, for in chap. iii. 25 he believes that he sees the
son of God (_bar elohim_), and in verse 28 of the same chap. he remarks
that "God hath sent his angel (_malachah_), and delivered his servants
that trusted in him." Again, in the fourth chapter, in which he recounts
a dream, he declares that he saw "a watcher and a holy one" (_geer and
kadesk_) come down from heaven with a message to him. But Daniel is not
an adequate authority upon ancient Babylonian beliefs. We are, in the
absence of direct testimony upon this subject» driven to such evidence
as is drawn from sculptured or other remains in ruins and on gems, and
to cuneiform and other writings. George Rawlinson sums up his account
thus--(_Ancient Monarchies_, vol. I, ch. vii., pp. 138, 9): "Various
deities, whom it was not considered at all necessary to trace to a
single stock, divided the allegiance of the people, and even of the
kings, who regarded with equal respect, and glorified with exalted
epithets, some fifteen or sixteen personages. Next to these principal
gods were a far more numerous assemblage of inferior or secondary
divinities, less often mentioned, and regarded as less worthy of honour,
but still recognized generally through the country. Finally, the
Pantheon contained a host of mere local gods or genii, every town and
almost every village in Babylonia being under the protection of its own
particular divinity."

The passage above quoted, which represents very fairly our existent
knowledge, suggests to the thoughtful mind a comparison with other
religions. In Greece there were many great gods and goddesses, and
other divinities of less renown. In Rome there were gods for almost
everything. But what these nations called "gods" the Hebrews called
"angels," as we shall see shortly. In Christendom angels and gods have,
as a general rule, been deposed, and "saints" have taken their
places. Not only has every town a cathedral which is dedicated to some
particular name--said to have been borne by a holy man or woman, whose
aid in heaven is thus secured by his votaries upon earth--but every
church in every parish, and every chapel in every church is set apart to
a particular "saint." Still farther, every trade and every position in
life has its tutelary patron in heaven, and secondary gods are as
common in Papal districts as they were in the land of the Chaldeans. The
philosopher cannot find a valid distinction between Ishtar, Venus, and
Mary, Dionysus and Denis, and a host of other gods, saints, or angels.

Assuming that the minor gods of Greece and Rome, and those essences
generally called "angels" are substantially the same order of beings,
we find that the Babylonians had a great number of celestial envoys,
viceroys, or messengers who ruled over the land and sea,
the sky and storms, the thunder and the rain, crops, men, war,
buildings--everything, indeed, was superintended by some one on behalf
of the Supreme Ruler.

We might pause here to speculate upon the question whether there is any
difference in kind between such a kingdom as Babylonia or Russia and the
heaven believed in by the ancient Jews and the modern Christians. In
all there is an autocratic sovereign who has a prime minister and
secretaries of state, who keep his books and perform his will according
to his bidding; under these again there are private clerks, who
superintend wind and weather, rain and hail, snow and frost; governors
of provinces, mayors, or prefects of cities; police, and so large a host
of subordinates, that nothing, great or small, can be done which escapes
the notice of one of the imperial envoys or ministers. The inventor
of heaven, such as we know it, was certainly an admirer of
'centralization'. Those who desire to see the description of the unseen
world modified are those who are opposed to an absolute monarchy, and
who see in everything, everybody, and in all the world a proof of the
presence of a supreme, omniscient, omnipresent, Creator, Ruler, or

Without going into an account of the Chaldean mythology, we may say that
there is strong reason to believe, both from the nomenclature which has
survived, and from such gems as are preserved from destruction, that
every Babylonian, whether bond or free, was called after some deity, who
was supposed ever afterwards to be his tutelary angel In modern times
Roman Catholics hold a similar belief, and each parent imagines that by
making selection, for his offspring, of the name of a particular saint,
the latter can be induced to take the child under its special care.

The learned in papal mythology know that every saint is depicted in
such a manner that none shall be mistaken. To such an extent indeed is
pictorial contrivance carried, that the art of recognising a particular
saint demands a special study. It is all but certain that the same
custom prevailed in Babylon; but, as all the professors which taught the
means of identification have passed away, we can only guess at the
name or nature of the angel. Let us imagine, for example, what an
archaeologist could make of the figure of Mary--of the bleeding or
burning heart, two thousand years after all history of the mother of
Jesus has passed away, like that of Ishtar has done. A curious figure,
called heart-shaped, but really not so, is found placed on the central
part of a woman's breast; from it flames appear to arise and blood
to drop, and through it is a dagger, and this mass of imagery is put
outside the body, and the dress is held open to enable any one to see

Without a key to the enigma, this is a mystery; but when the key is
given, and the inquirer hears the explanation, he finds it so absurd
that it is difficult to believe it. In like manner, when I see upon a
Babylonian gem, copied as a vignette on the title-page of Landseer's
_Sabean Researches_, a woman who has a beard, a necklace, two small
breasts, from each of which she squeezes apparently a river of milk;
over whose breastbone there is one large globe and two small ones,
placed perpendicularly; who has a spider waist, and wears a skirt
covered with pistol-shaped ornaments, I, not knowing whether the
Chaldeans adored "our lady of the flowing bosom," cannot frame an idea
as to the name of the saint, angel, virgin, or martyr which is depicted,
or what may have been her peculiar duties, who she was, and what trade
she patronised.

Whatever idea the Papal Church entertains respecting her canonised
saints, one thing is remarkable, viz., that they are not portrayed as
having wings. Each has an aureole of some sort round his or her head--a
painter's contrivance for saying "This individual, who seems like a man
or woman, is not a common but a divine creature." Francis of Assisi is,
in addition, depicted with stigmata, or marks on his hands, feet, and
side, which, though they resemble those made with nails in the case of
Jesus of Nazareth, were doubtless, in the case of the "saint," made with
the strong caustic called "spirit of salt" or other escharotic. We
might speculate upon the state of mind which sees in the assumption
of "stigmata" a greater evidence of faith than would be offered by the
conversion of the arms into the pinions of Michael the archangel; but,
as it is so much easier for even the most potent saint to make breaches
in his skin, than to persuade feathers to grow on his arms, we do not
think the task worthy of our care.

The Babylonians in this respect were predecessors of papal pagans. It is
a rare thing to find on any of their gems a winged angel or genius. One
such is depicted on the frontispiece of Landseer's _Sabean Researches_,
which is birdlike both as regards the head and pinions; and four other
winged creatures are given in Lajard's _Culte de Venus_. In two the
figures are human headed, and combined with the body of a quadruped.
At a later period of Babylonian mythology "grotesques" were introduced,
apparently from Egypt.

It is not to be lightly passed by, that the symbol which represented the
presence of the deity--which, if we may adopt a phrase, we should call
"the angel of his presence" (see Exod. xxxiii. 14,15; Isa, lxiii. 9), is
almost identical in the Chaldean and the papal religions, viz., a circle
containing a cross, an emblem as common in our churchyards as in the
capital of Nebuchadnezzar.

The resemblance between papal and Chaldean emblems and doctrines have
repeatedly attracted the attention of theologians; and I am not far
wrong in asserting that Protestants generally have identified "the
woman" of Revelation xvii., spoken of as "Mystery, Babylon the Great,
the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth," with Rome under
the popes. For myself I do not care to express any opinion on the point,
beyond a general dissent from the popular estimation of the dictum and
its interpretation. At the same time I must declare that every year,
over which my inquiries have extended, has imbued me more and more with
wonder at the similarity between the ancient Babylonian and the modern
papal religion. The two resemble children of the same parents, only that
one is older than the other; and it requires but little penetration in
an observer to trace in both, the lineaments of a grovelling
superstition, united with a base priestly cunning.

In our own estimation the strongest evidence in favour of a belief in
angels, of every degree, amongst the Chaldeans and Babylonians is the
enormous development of angelic mythology amongst the Jews, who lived
in the city of Nebuchadnezzar, and in those who migrated thence into
Palestine subsequent to the period of the captivity. From indications,
which are necessarily imperfect, we have formed the opinion that the
Babylonians were astronomical students of great proficiency, from a very
remote antiquity; that many of these professors turned their attention
to what is called judicial astrology--i.e., they attempted to judge
of future events by certain phenomena occurring in the heavens, and
especially in the relationship between different planets and the various

As the planets wander through the sky, naturally they were regarded as
the messengers of El--"the Supreme," who sent them to investigate the
condition of groups of stars, many of which formed a sort of community
that was unvisited by the Great King, for months together, and, in
many instances, not at all.As the heliacal rising of one star seemed
generally to be followed by good weather, and the corresponding rise
of another intimated the reverse, it was natural that one should be
regarded as an angel of happiness, the other as a harbinger of misery
or death. So strongly rooted is this belief amongst some, that it even
"holds its own" in educated England. The astronomer Royal is often asked
to cast a nativity; and a living merchant of Liverpool does so yet,
having confidence that his deductions suffice to prove their value.

The formula is "_Astra regunt homines, sed regit astra Deus_"--"The
stars rule men, but God rules the stars." A guardian star, then, that is
to say, the particular planet or other conspicuous celestial body which
was "in the ascendant" at the period of the birth of each individual,
was regarded in the same light as Christians esteem protective angels
and Romanists estimate patron saints. There can be, we think, little
doubt that the seven archangels are the seven planets known to the
ancients, each of which had a day dedicated to it, and who thus
originated the week of seven days. These amongst the Phoenicians were
called the Cabeiri, or the powerful ones. In the conclusion at which we
have arrived we are greatly strengthened by the discovery in Babylonian
ruins of certain bowls; facsimiles and descriptions of which are given
in Layard's Nineveh and Babylon, pp. 510-526. The inscriptions which
have been translated appear to be forms of exorcism, or amulets, by
which evil spirits are to be driven away; and reference is made in these
writings to the devil, for example, under the name _shida_; and to
Satan under the cognomen _Satanah_, evidently the same as the Satanas
habitually used in the New Testament; also to Nirich, probably from
a root like the Hebrew _narag_, "a noise maker or screamer." This
creature, as I think, is the same as the "Satyr" of Isaiah xiii. 21,
and xxxiv. 14, and represents or personifies those unseen but howling
maniacs who wandered about at night (see _Lilith and Satyr_ in my second
volume). Another demon is called _Zachiah_, a cognomen which I cannot
satisfactorily explain unless it is allied to _Zachar,_ and indicates
the power which, as the French would say, "can tie a knot in the needle"
(nouer l'aiguilette) or "a levin brand." Another of the devils is called
"Abitur of the Mountain," whose name resembling, as it does, the Jewish
_Abiathar_, is more likely to belong to the good than the bad angels.
Lilith is another demon still feared by the Jews, who employ charms
against her to this day. She is supposed to be a sort of spiritual
vampyre, and to suck the life out of infants and young people. These
names of angels occur in the first inscription given by Layard; in
the second we find Satan, associated with idolatry, curses, vows,
whisperings, witchcraft, and _Zevatta_--a concealer, rider, or enchanter
from root like this and answering to the fairy which steals away.

     "It was between the night and day
     When the fairy king has power,
     That I sank down in a sinful fray,
     And 'twixt life and death was snatcht away
     To the joyless Elfin bower."

     --Lady of the Lake, canto iv., stanza xv.

Another is named _Nidra_, which I take to signify vows made by supposed
sorcerers. This demon is associated in the same line with _Zevatta_
above described. _Patiki_ is another bad influence, probably now, "a
sword," for the charm has reference to freedom from captivity. Another
devil is called _Isarta_, which I take to be a leader of banditti or
marauders, from the Assyrian word (Furst's lexicon s.v. _asar_),
"a leader, head or commander," and a word from a root like _ta_, "to
drive," "to push forward," "to sweep away." We should call such an one
"the demon of destruction."

In this same inscription two good angels are named, Batiel or Bethiail,
probably a variant of Bethuel, "the residence of El," and Katuel or
Kathuail, the executioner or sword of El, from _katal_, to kill; compare
this with the expression, "Or if I bring a sword upon that land, and
say, sword, go through that land, so that I put off man and beast
from it" (Ezek. xiv. 17). In addition to these two angels another
is mentioned who has eleven names, not one of which is written in
full--e.g. SS. BB. CCC.

In a third inscription a devil is named "Abdi," which may be derived
from the root _abad_, and be regarded as the same as the New Testament
Abaddon (Rev. ix. 10)--the king of the slaughterers, bucaneers, rovers,
&c. We can fancy that Negroes who are captured and sold in droves
to foreigners, might imagine that Abdi was the devil which ruled the
African slave drivers and Christian purchasers. This demon is associated
with Levatta,--with tribulations, the machinations of the Assyrians,
misery, treachery, rebellion; Nidra, with sorrows generally; and _Shoq_,
which I take to be from a root like _shuq, or shaqaq_--i.e., "enemies
thirsting for booty, rangers, bands of robbers." Compare--"And the
spoilers came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies"
(1 Sam. xiii. 17). See also--He "delivered them into the hand of the
spoilers" (Jud. ii. 14; 2 Kin. xvii. 20). Amongst the devils must, I
think, also be classed _Asdarta_, which is clearly the same as the
goddess Astarte, and she is closely associated with "the machinations of
the Assyrians."

The good angels of this inscription are Barakiel, Ramiel, Raamiel,
Nahabiel, and Sharmiel, over whose names we will not now linger, except
to notice that the devils have names compounded with _jah_, whilst the
good ones are derived from EL.

In the fifth inscription, amongst the bad things are mentioned evil
spirits, both male and female, the evil eye, sorcery, and enchantments
both from men and women, along with Nidra and Levatta. The good angels
are called Babnaa, Ninikia, and Umanel, which I take to be intended
for Wu, _banahel_=El builds, or "the strong one who establishes us;"
_nachaghel_. El is powerful, or the Angel of Strength; and amanel, or
"the fostering angel."

In some fragments the names of good angels found have been Nadkiel,
Ramiel, Damael, Hachael, and Sharmiel, which we shall probably notice
again subsequently.

We do not lay any particular stress upon the fact of the bowls, on which
these inscriptions were found, having been dug up amongst Babylonian
ruins; nor do we care to prove either that they were of Jewish or
Chaldean origin. What we here desire to show is, that there existed in
Babylon a full belief in the existence of evil and good influences which
were invisible; that some individuals had, or were thought to possess,
supernatural powers for harm, which could be counteracted by those
who placed themselves under the protection of potencies supposed to be
holier, wiser, or stronger than the evil genii From the method in which
everything connected with witchcraft, magic, astrology, and the like, is
spoken of in the Old Testament, and from the fact that slaves are much
more likely to imitate their masters than conquerors to become pupils of
the vanquished, we conclude that it was not the Hebrews who taught the
Chaldees, but that the contrary was the case.

In the view thus enunciated we are confirmed by the manner in which old
Jewish writers spoke of the nation that enslaved them--e.g., "Babylon,
the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency" (Isa. xiii. 19); "All of them
princes to look at after the manner of the Babylonians of Chaldea."...
And "she (Jerusalem) doted upon them, and sent messengers unto them into
Chaldea; and... she was polluted with them, and her mind was alienated
from (or by) them" (Ezek. xxiii. 15-17); "It is a mighty nation, it is
an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not" (Jerem.
v. 15)--Jeremiah knew more about the people than Isaiah (see Isa.
xxiii. 13). Habakkuk, again, speaking of the same people, says (chap,
i. 6-10)--"The Chaldeans, that bitter and hasty nation... terrible and
dreadful:... they shall scoff at the kings, and the princes shall be a
scorn unto them." Such being the estimation of the Babylonians by Hebrew
prophets, it is morally certain that the Jews would regard them with
respect, admire, study, and copy them. To what extent the imitation went
it is difficult to say.

When, therefore, we find that the descendants of Abraham, a patriarch
whom a veneration for the ancient Babylonians induced the Israelite
mythologists to represent as being a Chaldee; and those who were taught
on the banks of the Euphrates, were spoken of in Rome about the time of
our era, and shortly afterwards, as being almost synonymous epithets
for sorcerers, astrologers, charmers, &c., we must conclude that the
Mesopotamian was the master, the Palestinian the pupil. That the
two were regarded as relatives we infer from Juvenal (sat. vi.
544-552)--"For a small piece of money the Jews sell whatever dreams you
may choose, but an Armenian or Commagenian soothsayer promises a tender
love;... but her (i.e., the lady who consults such folk) confidence in
Chaldeans will be the greater."

But, ere we leave this portion of our Essay, we must notice one other
piece of evidence of considerable value which is drawn from the New
Testament. We find, for example, in Acts xxiii. 8, "The Sadducees
say that there is no resurrection, neither angel nor spirit, but
the Pharisees confess both." If we inquire into the origin of these
sects--and we shall be greatly assisted in doing so by two very
elaborate articles by the erudite Dr. Ginsburg, in Kitto's _Cyclopaedia
of Biblical Knowledge_--we shall see reason to believe that the
Sadducees were a sect who considered that they were not bound to believe
any tenet as necessary unless they could find it distinctly enunciated
in the Pentateuch. They resolutely declined, therefore, to accept
as revelation such stories as had been adopted by the Hebrews from
Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, and possibly from the Romans.

We might institute a comparison between the Sadducees and those whom
we know as "reformers." The first acknowledged the authority of
Moses alone, such as they found it in "the five books;" the second
acknowledged the authority of Jesus and his apostles, such as they found
it in the New Testament: the first rejected the commentaries of Rabbis;
the second those of "the fathers." Both appealed to antiquity, and both
traced to what we may designate paganism, heathenism, or foreign sources
generally, a large portion of the current faith which they saw around
them. The Sadducees regarded the doctrine of seraphic interference,
and all the angelic mythology common in their time, as the fond fancy of
those who desired to harmonize Judaism with Gentilism. The Reformers, in
their turn, rejected all the fables of Papal anchorites, &c.; denied the
power of any martyr to influence the condition of the living after their
death; and generally opposed the saintly, as the Sadducees opposed the
angelic, hierarchy. Individuals who sympathize with Luther, Calvin,
and those of a similar way of thinking, may readily understand the
Sadducees, whereas, those of what is called the "High Church," will give
their interest to the Pharisees, who upheld the then mediaeval customs,

It is probable that some will say, that Jesus of Nazareth, being the
son of God, a deity incarnate, and consequently familiar with everything
which goes on in the court of heaven; having adopted the angelic
mythology; having conversed familiarly with the devil; having sent, at
least, two thousand devils out of one man into a herd of swine; having
gone down to hell, wherever that may be; and having preached to the
spirits imprisoned there, whoever they may be or have been; having,
still further, had an angel to comfort him; having had a conference with
Moses and Elijah on a certain hill; having asserted that he had only to
pray to his father to obtain the assistance of twelve legions of angels;
and having also told us that every child has an angel who stands before
the face of God--seeing these things, I say, one can imagine persons
asseverating that all our current notions of angels, which are built
upon the New Testament, must be true.

To this we rejoin, that these assertions beg the question. The
philosopher affirms that the idea of angels is incompatible with that
of an omnipresent God--that the belief of Jesus in an angelic mythology
proves him to have had an anthropomorphic notion of "the Supreme," and,
as a consequence, it follows that Jesus was nothing more than a Jew,
although very superior to the generality of his countrymen, having
possibly been taught by some Buddhist.* The bigot, on the other hand,
can only scream out the formularies which the so-called orthodox provide
for him. Johanna Southcote once made some folks believe that she was
pregnant with a Messiah, and she had most enthusiastic followers; but
neither argument nor rhetoric sufficed to beget the promised baby and,
in like manner, no amount of declamation can convert an assumption into
a fact. But of this truth most of our theologians appear to be ignorant,
and, like the heathen with their litanies, they think that they will
obtain their will by "much speaking."

     * It will be noticed by the reader, that the remarks in the
     text have reference to the supernatural stories which were
     interwoven into the biography of Jesus by those whom we call
     Evangelists. The bibliolaters must, however, stand or fall
     by the many legendary tales which pass current for truth. If
     Jesus, as an ordinary Jew, believed in angels--just as our
     king, James I., believed in the existence of modern witches
     --we cannot use his evidence to prove the existence of angels
     and devils, any more than the Christian laws against
     witchcraft demonstrate that old women and men sold their
     souls and bodies to Satan. If, on the other hand, we allow
     that the spiritual mythology of the New Testament is due to
     Pharasaic influence, all the testimony propounded in favour
     of the assertion, that Jesus was, in reality, "a son of
     Jehovah," crumbles away.

When summoned, a long time ago, to give evidence in a court of justice,
the question was put to me--"Now, doctor, you have heard the symptoms
from which the deceased suffered; do you believe that they were produced
by arsenic?" Being doubtful about the propriety of the query in a court
of law so prudish as ours is, I remained silent, and in an instant the
judge, Baron Alderson, said--"I won't allow that question to be put or
answered; you want the witness to take the place of the jury, and it
shall not be done. You may ask the doctor, if you will, what are the
symptoms produced by arsenic, when taken in a poisonous dose, and then
it is the business of the jury to compare those, with such as have
already been sworn to as occurring in the man before he died." This
anecdote is frequently in my mind when I am composing an essay like the
present. If I wish to convince the jury who reads my papers of the truth
of a particular conclusion to which I have arrived, it is not enough for
me to express my own opinions. I may assert, in the matter in question,
that I am a skilled witness, and have closely investigated the subject,
but it is open to any one to doubt my industry and to distrust my
judgment; consequently, it is necessary for me to adduce evidence, as
well as to draw deductions therefrom.

The hypothesis which I have formed, after a pretty extensive reading,
is, that the belief in the mythology of angels which is current amongst
Christians at the present time, and which is based upon a series of
pretended revelations, said to have been made exclusively to Jews of
ancient times, is, in reality, founded upon fancies of pagan priests or
poets; and, as a corollary, I infer, either that our celestial mythology
must be given up to oblivion, as being heathenish, or that we must
abandon those claims to an exclusive inspiration which have been made
for, and accorded by many to, the Bible. I have already described the
ideas associated with angels in some ancient peoples, and I now propose
to examine those of other nations with whom the Jews and Christians,
directly or indirectly, came in contact.

The reader of ancient Roman history cannot doubt that the city on the
Tiber was indebted to the Etruscans for all, or nearly all, of its early
knowledge. It is probable that the original gods and goddesses of Rome
were those of their northern neighbours, and everything which the Romans
knew of augury was due to the priests of Etruria; consequently it is not
unprofitable to inquire, as far as we can, whether these had any idea
of beings such as we call angels. As we have not many available written
remains of the remarkable people to whom we refer, we are obliged to be
satisfied with pictorial and other relics which have survived until our
days. Some of the scenes depicted on urns, vases, and walls, in tombs
and elsewhere, are sufficiently explanatory of the subjects which
the artist has desired to pourtray; others, on the contrary, can be
interpreted in a variety of ways. Paying no attention to the latter,
we may safely affirm, that the Etruscans had ideas upon the subject of
angels very similar to our own. The form which their artists gave to
them is precisely that which is current at the present day, except
that, unlike the Christian, the Etruscan angels were of different sexes.
Sometimes both males and females were draped from the neck to the
feet, in other drawings they were partially or wholly nude. In the vast
majority of cases each one possessed two wings that were attached to the
back, behind the arms, precisely as they are in modern pictures; but in
one very remarkable instance (plate 7, _Description de quelques Vases
Etrusques_, par H. D. de Luynes--folio, Paris, 1840) the beings to
whom we refer had each three pairs of pinions, the one attached to the
shoulder blades, a second to the loins, and a third to the calves of the
legs. These creatures correspond to our demons or imps of Satan, or the
devils of the New Testament which were sent into a herd of swine.

Some of the winged Etruscan demons must be regarded as "angels
of death," for they are represented as hovering in the air over
individuals, such as Cassandra and Polynices, who are about to be
sacrificed. One angel, who, as usual, Diaitized bv is spoken of by the
Christian describer thereof as a goddess, is designated "Cunina." Her
business was to look after and take charge of infants in their cradle.
A being such as this, by whatever name we may designate her, cannot fail
to remind us of the expression in the New Testament--"Take heed that ye
despise not one of these little ones; for I say unto you that in heaven
their angels do always behold the face of my father which is in heaven"
(Matt, xviii. 10). In another Etruscan painting we find two angelic
beings, fully draped, carrying a nude corpse apparently to the future
or invisible state. These naturally remind us of the passage in Rev.
xx. 1--"I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of
the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand." In some Etruscan
paintings we have scenes which are supposed to indicate the preparation
of a bride for the wedding ceremony. In these there are diminutive
angels introduced, which are sometimes hovering in the air and sometimes
seated on the edge of the bath; these are by the learned supposed to
represent Cupid, Eros, Hymen, or Love, and they indicate the devout
feeling, that an angel watches over those who contract marriage in an
orthodox manner.*

     * Whether the Romans obtained all their inferior deities
     from the Etruscans, or whether the priests of the Eternal
     City in ancient times improved upon the mythology which came
     to them from their predecessors, just as the priests of
     modern Rome have expanded, without improving, the
     Christianised paganism which came to them, is a matter
     difficult to decide. But it is certain that the old Romans
     multiplied their "gods," as the modern ones have multiplied
     their "saints." Amongst the former were many curious
     deities, who presided at the wedding of young people, some at
     the public ceremony, and others at the private rites.
     "PRema" was the angel of quietness, whose business it was to
     see "ne subacta virgo se ultra modum commovens semen a vulva
     ejiceret." "Subigus" was another angel or demigod, whose
     duty it was to see that the consummation should take place
     in an appropriate manner--lovingly, pleasantly, and
     peacefully. There was another--Pertunda--of whom Augustine
     (Civ. Dei, vol. 9) remarks--"Si adest dea Prema ut subacta se
     non commoveat quum prematur, dea Pertunda quid ea facit?" In
     modern times the Papal saints, Cosmo, Damian, Foutin, and
     sundry others, have had the special duty assigned to them to
     make the husband fit for his marital duties.

That the absence of such a spirit was looked upon as unlucky we gather
from an expression in Propertius (b. v. el. 3) in which a wife, whose
husband has been obliged to leave her, and go to a distant war, when
bewailing her destiny, amongst other references says--"I wedded without
a god to accompany me." This calls to memory the statement in Hebrews
i. 14, wherein, after speaking of angels, the writer asks--"Are they not
all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be
heirs of salvation?"--a sentence which implies the idea that those who
are not heirs of salvation have not angels which minister for them. The
doctrine was certainly not exclusively Christian. Of this any one may
assure himself by referring to Eccles. v. 6--"Neither say thou before
the angel that it was an error; wherefore... should God destroy the
works of thine hands?"

Again, we find an angel seated between two young folk of opposite sexes,
and archaeologists tell us that the winged creature thus figured is
a nuptial god--one whose business is to induce appropriate couples to
meet, to love, and to marry. Such a celestial match-maker was the Jewish
Raphael, who, though "one of the seven holy angels, which present the
prayers of the saints, and which go in and out before the glory of the
Holy One" (Tobit xii. 15)--yet condescended to conduct Tobias a long way
to meet Sara, and instructed him how he could marry her with safety, and
defeat a devil.

Amongst other individuals, in the Etruscan mythological paintings who
are winged, are the following, which are named thus by the authors who
describe the vases, &c., whether rightly or wrongly it is not necessary
for me to prove:--Janus; Furina, the goddess of thieves; Mercury, the
messenger of Jupiter and the patron of robbers; Vacuna, or Desideria,
or Venus, the goddess of indolence, desire, or love; Hymen, the angel
or god of marriage; Cupid, the god of love; Victory, Bacchus, Silenus,
Dryads, Calliope, Tempest, Fame, Proserpine; Iibitina, the goddess of
funerals; Venus, infera, Nemesis, or fate; Death, life, Charybdis, The
Furies, Geryon, Justice, Peace, Iris, and Diana. On such a subject the
reader may consult with advantage Augustine (_de Civitate Dei_, b. vl.
c. 9); Arnobius (_Adversus Gentes_, b. iv. c. 7); and Tertullian (_Ad
Nationes_, b. ii. c. 11).

We may now refer to a remarkable series of drawings, representing the
funeral of Patroclus, described by Homer, which were discovered in the
Etruscan sepulchre of the Tarquinii near what once was Vulci and is now
"Ponte della Badia," in the year 1857, and which is described in _Noël
des Vergers L'Etrurie et les Etrusques_, and in _Corpus Inscriptionum
Italicarum_ (Turin 1867), the latter of which I use as my authority. In
one of the scenes we find depicted the sacrifice of the Trojan youths
at the grave of Patroclus. The artist has not left to the fancy of the
observer the identification of his figures, but has written in Etruscan
letters the modified names of the actors. Beginning from the right hand,
we find Ajax Oileus, and next to him a naked Trojan youth, whose hands
are bound behind his back, and who is guarded by Telamonian Ajax. Behind
and besides him is Charon, and in front of the latter is another Trojan
youth, nude, seated on the ground, and receiving his death-wound from
Achilles. Behind the latter stands a winged, draped, tall female figure,
whom at one time I took to be the glorified soul of Patroclus; but,
having seen a similar figure on other Etruscan designs depicting human
sacrifice or death, and finding over the head of this one the word
_fanth, vanth, or fano_--according to the value which we assign to the
digamma or F and O--which is, I think, equivalent to the Latin _Fatum_,
fate, &c., we must regard the figure as resembling Azrael--"the angel
of death." Besides and behind her stands a draped man unarmed, having a
fixed countenance of settled melancholy, and regarding without a shade
of exultation the death of the young Trojan whom Achilles slaughters.
Over his head are the words _hinthial patrucles_, which is believed
to signify "the shade of Patroclus." The last figure in the group is

This and the other sculptures in the tomb are extremely interesting
to the archaeologists, firstly, because they bear evidence of a very
superior style of art; secondly, because they testify to the antiquity
of Homer's _Iliad_, and its popularity in other nations than the Greek.
They show, moreover, that the wealthy men amongst the Etrurians were not
ignorant of the Grecian language, or rather literature, although they
had difficulty in adapting the Hellenic words to their own alphabet;
lastly, they ought to be especially valuable to us inasmuch as
they demonstrate the existence of a belief in ancient Italy of the
resurrection of the body, and of the existence of angels precisely the
same in shape as those which pious Christians delight to see in their
churches, and in their manuals of devotion. It is worthy of notice
that upon some Etruscan vases in the museum at Munich there are angelic
warriors covered with armour--a winged female carrying a caduceus, and
winged horses--like Pegasus, and probably like those seen by Zechariah,
the Hebrew vaticinator.

We consider it best to omit making any remarks respecting the ideas
entertained about angels by the Phoenicians, for we have scarcely any
information about their mythology beyond the names of certain gods and
goddesses. It will be more profitable to pass on to the Greeks, and
inquire into the general system of their theological belief. This is,
we think, a matter of some importance, for this people, as victors and
masters, came into contact with the Jews in the time of Joel, about b.c.
800; and if any captive Hebrews came back from Grecia (see Joel iii. 6),
we believe that they would naturally bring back with them much of the
Hellenic lore of their conquerors. The reader must not be carried away
here with the once popular notion that everything which was found
in heathendom, which resembled something biblical or Jewish, came of
necessity from scriptural or Israelitish sources. The reverse is
much more likely, for the Hebrews in old times are described by their
historians and preachers as hankering after novelty--"going whoring
after other gods," as the Bible has it. They, on the other hand, were
encouraged to keep themselves aloof from others, and were never a
missionary nation; nor, had they been so, were they sufficiently
honourable or wealthy, as a race, ever to command respect. They were,
indeed, generally despised by the people round about them, who would
no more think of adopting Jewish fables than we should care to learn
theology and cosmogony from African negroes.

If we endeavour to reduce Grecian mythology to its simplest expression,
we find that it consisted of a belief in a creator--grand beyond
conception, and one whom the mind could not conceive, nor pencil nor
the chisel depict. Under him there was thought to be a host of minor
deities, who agreed, more or less, amongst themselves, each having
a particular department of creation to preside over, or a definite
function to perform. Jupiter, for example, had the air and the heavens
generally under his management; Neptune superintended the sea; Rhea, or
Gaia, or Gee, was the goddess of the surface of the earth; and Pluto had
the management of the interior of the globe and of those who were buried
therein. If corpses were unburied, they did not come under his immediate
cognizance. Then, as it was quite possible that one deity might be
counteracting another, as, indeed, they are represented to have done
during the Trojan war, another god was necessary to be a medium of
communication between the others, and Mercury became the messenger, or

Below the major gods was an infinity of smaller ones, who presided
over physical and moral matters. There were, for example, wood and
tree nymphs; Dryads and hamadryads--gods of rivers, such as Simois
and Scamander. Pan presided over husbandmen; Hermes, over thieves, &c.
Others, like Eros, fulfilled the duty of bringing the sexes together.
Hymen secured them in marriage, and Venus had the duty of insuring
connubial happiness, whilst Lucina's business was to bring the offspring
of the marriage into the world--with as little pain or danger as
possible. Then, again, Fortune brought good luck. The "furies" brought
evil, and the "fates" ruled the destiny of mortals.

Against some of these gods others rebelled. For example, there were the
Titans, the sons of Heaven and Earth (Cælus et Terra), who were all of
gigantic stature, and may be said to be identical with the giants spoken
of in Gen. vi. 2-4, as being the offspring of the sons of God and the
daughters of men. These Titans were much disliked by their father, and
confined in the bowels of the earth, or, as we should say, in Hell; but
their mother relieved them, and they in turn revenged themselves upon
their progenitor. When Jupiter succeeded to Cronos or Saturn, the
giants, the sons of Tartarus and Terra, or Hell and Earth, united with
their half-brothers, the Titans, and attacked Olympus, and its gods, in
dismay, assumed disguises and fled into Egypt--a rare spot, whence also
came as history tells us, the founder of Christianity and the doctrine
of the Trinity. To regain his position, Jupiter found a man--a son of
his own--whom he had begotten by lying three nights in the heart of
the earth, or, as the fable has it, in the arms of Alcmena--Hercules by
name, to attack the allied monsters, and thus with the aid of a mortal
the gods became victorious. Just as in more modern days the divine
mission and position of Jesus of Nazareth and Mahomet of Mecca, have
been determined by the arms of human warriors. The power of men in
heaven is wonderful, considering how great is their weakness upon earth!
It is probable, that to the Greeks, Milton owed his ideas of _Paradise

According to the ordinary ideas of angels, the gods, demigods,
goddesses, genii, and the like, were essentially the same amongst the
Hebrews as the archangels and inferior hierarchy are in modern christian
mythology. We shall the more readily see this if we inquire into the
ideas of the Greeks respecting _demons_. "The latter were regarded as
spirits which presided over the actions of mankind, and watched over
their secret intentions." Many Greek theologians thought that each
man had two, the one good, the other bad. These sprites could change
themselves into any form, and at death the individual was delivered up
to judgment by these companions, who testified to his actions during
life. Socrates often spoke of his own peculiar "spirit." Not only were
these creatures supposed to influence men, but they were also believed
to guard places, and a genius loci was the same as the God of Ekron, or
any other locality.

It is almost impossible for a thoughtful man not to compare with the
Greek ideas those held by moderns. We hear in familiar discourse, and
read in popular books, about a good angel and a bad one. God is said to
use both (see Ps. lxxviii. 49, and 1 Kings xxii. 21, 22.) Many, too, of
the readers of Sterne will remember the remarks which he makes about a
recording angel who was obliged to register an oath, but who contrived
to blot out the entry with a tear (com. Mal. iii. 16.) As we have already
adverted to the belief of Jesus that every child had an angel, who
is always in the presence of. God, we need not remark again upon the

But though the Grecian gods and demigods were the counterparts of the
archangels and lesser powers of the Jews and Christians, they were not
pictorially depicted, as they were in other places, like winged men or
other creatures.

Arnobius, for example, in _Advenus génies_, when writing about the
divinities of the heathen, remarks, that they are so like ordinary men
and women, that the artist has to resort to some contrivance to show
that any offspring of his brush, or of his chisel, is a god or goddess.
A painter, he observes, will select the finest young women he can
discover--or the handsomest prostitute in his country, and from one
maiden, or from the collective charms of many, will paint a lovely woman
and style her Venus; yet she is only a courtezan after all. His remark is
a certainly true one. Jupiter is never represented otherwise than as a
man, nor does Minerva ever figure except as a woman. None of the greater
gods of Hellas are winged like the tutelar gods of the Assyrians and
Persians were. Even Hermes, though he does bear pinions, does not carry
them in the usual form. Instead of having powerful wings behind his
arms, like the Gabriel or Michael of Christian mythology, he has little
nippers attached to each side of a cap, of a pair of socks, and of a
curiously-shaped wand--all of which he can put off when he pleases,
or don when he is sent with a message. Jupiter's thunders bear similar
wings. But such minor deities, or devils, as Eros or love; Hymen or
marriage; Fame, or victory; Aurora, or day-break; the winds, the Genii,
the Gorgons, the Furies, the Harpies, Iris, Isis, Hebe, Psyche, and even
Pegasus--a wondrous horse, are winged with pinions which resemble those
of the eagle.

If we now pause for a moment to compare one thing with another, we
readily see that Hymen may fairly be described as the angel of the
covenant of marriage, and that Mercury is identical with Raphael. The
"genius loci," the "dryad" or "hamadryad," is the counterpart of the
cherubim guarding the ark and the mercyseat of the Jewish temple. Apollo
is the angel in the sun (Rev. xix. 17.) Neptune is "the angel of the
waters" (Rev. xvi. 5.) Nay, we may--indeed we must go further, and affirm
that either the angel Gabriel, or "the power of the Highest," which,
we are told in Luke i. 26, 35, overshadowed Mary, the espoused wife
of Joseph, is a perfect counterpart of the Hellenic Jupiter who
overshadowed Alcmena.

Both produced a being equally celebrated--for we may fairly assert that
Hercules was believed in by as many individuals as have faith in Jesus.
For ourselves, we do not credit the myth of the Hellenists; of the very
existence of a Hercules we are profoundly incredulous. Yet we do not
doubt for a moment that Jesus of Nazareth lived as a man upon this
earth, and founded, with the subsequent assistance of Paul, the religion
which is called Christian. But of the supernatural conception of Mary
and of her impregnation by a deity we are intensely sceptical.

Of the theology of the Romans in the times prior to, and somewhat
subsequent to, our era, we need say little. It resembled both the
Etruscan and the Greek at the first, and subsequently it was modified by
the Egyptian and by the Persian. But it was in Rome, whilst pagan, that
the present pictorial type of angels was perfected (see Plates ix. to
xiii, Lajard's _Culte de Venus_), in which allegorical figures, from old
Roman bas-reliefs, precisely like modern angels, are represented killing
the Mithraic bull. I may also add, in passing, that the crozier borne by
Romanist bishops is a reproduction of the Etruscan _lituus_, the augurs'
or diviners' staff of office.

The Roman nation, like the Papist and Peruvian religions, was
omnivorous, and not only venerated the old gods of the soil, but adopted
new divinities eagerly. Whoever chose to import a new deity, and a novel
style of worship was hailed, patronized and enriched, much in the same
way as at London during recent times, Mesmerists, "spirit rappers,"
"cord-conjurors," clairvoyants, male and female, spiritualists like
Home, very High Churchmen, and many other classes of a similar stamp
have been encouraged. As in Athens, we are told that "the Athenians and
strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else but either
to tell or to hear some new thing" (Acts xvii), no matter whether the
novelty was religious or otherwise, so it has been elsewhere. London
really, and Rome metaphorically are constantly adopting new ideas, some
highly commendable and philosophical, others quite the reverse. Amongst
the latter, we may mention that which professes that a certain man
can, like Jesus is said to have done, heal by a touch. This assertion,
however, is only sparsely credited on the Thames. Far more general is
the belief which professes, that an Ecumenical Council can by a vote
make one man and his official successors "infallible."

We cannot pass by this subject without remarking that instability in
religion is evidence of infidelity; and the adoption of new tenets is a
proof of the low estimation in which old ones have been held. Even the
new, or Christian dispensation, as it is called, is founded upon the
insufficiency of the old or Jewish covenant, which, by those who adopt
the one, is a confession that they believe the other was imperfect and
therefore not of God. Consequently, when we find a "church," like the
Roman, habitually patching its old clothes, we conclude that its leaders
are dissatisfied with them and desire better. A lover who finds his
mistress perfect neither seeks nor wishes to change her for another; nor
endeavours to induce her to modify her attire until he is dissatisfied
therewith. When he insists upon an alteration it is because his ardent
love has faded. The philosopher may see clearly why certain prelates
desire to have some infallible man to appeal to--for it is easier
to find out the opinion of one individual than to harmonize the
contradictory hypotheses of fifty dogmatical or authoritative writers.
Yet the same man will not fail to see that such a proceeding, whilst it
strengthens the hold of the church upon the weak-minded, cuts it adrift
from the strong. The policy is not altogether bad, for it seeks to bind
closer those who, whilst wearing the chains of captivity, regard them
as ornaments. But all those who adopt such tactics ought, boldly and
unequivocally, to withdraw from the rank of truth-seekers, and of envoys
of that God who is not "the author of confusion but of peace."

We may now proceed to the consideration of the angelic mythology of the
Old and New Testaments. In our inquiry we shall endeavour to arrive
at the ideas contained in the words which are used, and not content
ourselves with simple quotation. There is strong reason to believe that
Christians in general rarely examine into the real signification of
words which they are taught to use, or which, from some fancy or other,
they commit to memory. They imagine--if they think on the subject at
all--that to repeat a text or a creed is to perform an act of faith,
which, in itself, is praiseworthy and a good work. Such do not, in any
appreciable degree, differ from the Thibetans, described by the Abbé
Hue, who perform their devotions by turning round upon their axles
certain cylinders, upon which some prayers are engraved. Not only these
Asiatics, but Europeans of large mental calibre are often contented with
vague ideas; and when they are challenged to support "the faith which
is in them," show that they have never yet examined it. If, for example,
they are asked how they can believe in the truth of such passages,
"I have seen God (Kohim) face to face" (Gen. xxxii. 30); "The Lord
(Jehovah) spake unto Moses face to face as a man speaketh unto his
friend" (Exod. xxxiii. 11); "Moses whom the Lord knew face to face"
(Deut. xxxiv. 10), and the opposite one, "Thou canst not see my face,
for there shall no man see me and live" (Exod. xxxiii. 20)--the sole
reply rendered is that the first passages are figurative, passing by
entirely the comparison in the second, which asserts that God talked
with Moses as one friend with another.

As a farther illustration of my meaning, I may point to the glibness
with which Christians talk, sing, and listen to discourses about blood.
If people really gave heed to what they chant, and to the words of their
ministers, they would really be puzzled to find a distinction between
the god whom they worship and that idol deity of Mexico, which called
constantly for the hearts and the blood of his worshippers. "Without
shedding of blood is no remission" (Heb. ix. 22) is a dogma that puts
the Europeans' God on the same level as the deities worshipped in pagan
Africa, New Zealand, and by the Anthropophagi generally.

In like manner, if ordinary people are asked to reconcile such passages
as the following--"Who maketh his angels spirits;" "A spirit hath not
flesh and bones as ye see me have" (Luke xxiv. 39)--with a host of
others, in which angels are said to have appeared, talked, and acted
like men, they allege that "much of the phraseology of the Bible is
metaphorical." But if it be granted that the language is metaphorical,
must we not equally believe that the facts referred to are mythical; and
if so, how much of the so-called inspired book can we trust? If metaphor
and figure-imagery are cities of refuge for theologians, those who fly
to them must remember, that there they must remain and live therein all
their days; they cannot be citizens of the world, and yet never leave
their asylum: if, for them, facts are fictions, by parity of reason
fictions are facts.

If, when an individual, said to be a prophet, and, as such, the
mouthpiece of the Holy Ghost or of Jehovah, tells us that he saw and
talked with an angel, who imparted to him such and such information,
we are bound either to believe the whole statement or to reject it as
valueless, _quoad_ revelation. If the man did see an angel, and that
angel spoke, it must have been material; and if material, it could not
be a spirit, and if not a spirit, it was not an angel.* If to this it be
answered that individuals do see what they deem to be spirits--just
as many a drunken man avers that he sees "blue devils," we grant it at
once. We go still farther, and state that we know individuals in full
possession, apparently, of all their senses, who see, occasionally, men,
women, horses, dogs, and other things, which have no more existence
than the figures which appear to us in dreams. Such men not only see
imaginary beings, but they hear conversations or speeches which have no
reality in them. But we cannot for a moment allow that such delusions of
the senses are sterling, and such utterances, messages from the Almighty
delivered by angels. To be logical, therefore, the theologian must
either accept the stories told in the Bible about angelic beings as
literally true, to the exclusion of all metaphor, or believe that
every thing tainted by such celestial mythology is entirely of human

     * The authority for this is Ps. civ. 4; Heb. L 7, 14,--"Who
     maketh his angels spirits;" "Are they not all ministering

As an illustration, let us consider two episodes in the history of
Elisha. We find in 2 Kings ii. 11, that a chariot of fire and horses of
fire, appeared to this prophet, and parted him from Elijah, with whom
he was walking, and carried the latter away into heaven; and we see in
2 Kings vi. 17, that Elisha's servant could really see a multitude
of chariots and horses of fire round about his master. We must also
remember that "the chariots of the Lord are thousands of angels"
(Ps. lxviii. 17; see also Ps. xxxiv. 7.) Now these were, or were not,
realities--if the chariots and horsemen existed, then we infer that some
sort of stables and ostlers exist in heaven; if none such exist, then
the chariots and horses could neither have been seen, nor have separated
the two prophets.

It may be urged that supernatural beings do exist for those who can
see them, and for no other; just as the angel was seen by Balaam's ass
thrice (see Numbers xxii. 22-33) before he was recognized by her master.
But this observation is worthless, for it amounts to nothing more than
this--viz., that the persons seen in dreams exist for the dreamers and
for no one else; but it in no way proves the reality of the asserted

It would be as useless to discuss, at this point, the actuality of what
are called "spectres," as of other things named fairies, pixies, gnomes,
or sprites. Of the existence of such there is abundance of evidence; and
for hundreds of years there was not a human being who did not believe in
them. But there was even stronger proof that the world stood still, and
the sun went round it, and during untold centuries all who thought on
the matter believed the statement. Yet in these days all the testimony
is regarded as worthless in the presence of the stern facts of science;
and ghosts are only believed in by such as write treatises upon squaring
the circle, perpetual motion, and the plane figure of the earth. We
shall take up the subject at length in our next chapter.

If we were to follow the bent of our inclination, we should now
endeavour to prove that the Jews had no idea of an angelic mythology
prior to the Babylonian captivity, and that they had no distinct
literature prior to the Grecian and Edomite captivity referred to in
Joel, Amos, Obadiah, and Micah, except possibly such records and written
laws as may be styled "annals" or "year-books;" and, as a consequence,
that all parts of the Old Testament in which angelic beings figure are
comparatively modern, having been fabricated after the long sojourn of
the Jews in Babylon. But to carry out this intention would require a
treatise rather than an essay, and I must content myself with saying
that I believe it to be affirmed by all Hebrew scholars, that up to the
time of Nebuchadnezzar--or Hezekiah--the sole unseen power recognized
by the Jews was Jehovah alone. They did not believe either in angel or
devil What their ideas were we may shortly describe*:--

     * Long after the remark in the text was written, and long
     before it was in type, Dr. Kalisch, in his second part of a
     commentary on Leviticus, published his views upon the point
     referred to. When I can refer my readers to so masterly a
     composition as his essay upon Angels in the Jewish theology,
     it is seedless for me to say much on the subject. I may also
     refer those who are interested in the matter to a work
     entitled _The Devil: his Origin, Greatness, and Decadence_
     (Williams & Norgate, London, 1871--small 8vo., pp. 72). My
     essay supplements these, and in no way clash therewith.

1. Angels were spirits, being also ministers (Heb. L 7.) They were a
flaming fire (Ps. civ. 4); compare Jud. xiii. 20, and Acts vii. 35--that
is, spirits are made of a combustible material which is, however,

2. They could assume the form of men, and were identical with God (see
Gen. xviii. 19; Tobit, and Luke i.): that is to say, they were masters,
yet servants--the sender and the sent at the same time!

3. Their faces were terrible (Jud. xiii. 6); but they also shone (Acts
vi. 15) and yet they were so good-looking and handsome that the Sodomites
fell in love with them as Jupiter did with Ganymede (Gen. xix).

4 One was the superintendent of destruction, and was visible on one
occasion to David (2 Sam. xxiv. 16, 17), to Oman, his sons, and to the
elders of Israel (1 Chron. xxi. 16-20.) His weapon was a sword (_ibid._)
He certainly must have had flesh and bones. It would be an interesting
matter to inquire whether the sword was as spiritual as the angel was.

5. One angel was outwitted by a donkey (see Numb. xxii. 22-33.) Yet
this angel was God (comp. Numb. xxii. 35, and xxiv. 4, 15,16). It is
marvellous to me how any one can read this history of Balaam and his
ass, and notice how the animal turned God from His purpose (see chap,
xxii. 33), and yet believe the story to be of _divine_ origin!

6. They are made of light (Luke ii. 9), yet can talk the vernacular, and
can be counterfeited by Satan (2 Cor. xi. 14); but how he manages it, and
whether he then ceases to be a roaring lion or a fallen angel "reserved
in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day"
(Jude 6), is a matter for surmise.

7. One of them fought with the Devil, and kept his temper (Jude 9.) Of
the language used in the disputation we do not know; nor can we tell how
the two recognized each other.

8. Some of them are guilty of folly (Job. iv. 18), and some sinned--how,
one does not know--and were cast down to hell, and delivered into chains
of darkness. It is fitting that beings who have no flesh and bones
should be bound by fetters that have no reality (2 Peter ii. 4).

9. Some were discontented with their home and were punished (Jude 6);
but where their original habitation was, or why it was regarded as so
miserable that another place was desired, is a mystery.

10. They have food provided for them (Ps. lxxviii. 25), and they eat like
men (Gen. xviii. 8; and xix. 3), consequently angels must have flesh,
blood, and a stomach to digest victuals. Sometimes instead of eating
food they order it to be burned, and the smoke from the viands serves as
a vehicle to heaven (Jud. xiii. 19, 20).

11. Their number is twenty thousand (Ps. lxviii. 17).

12. They are chariots (_ibid_), yet they walk and get their feet dusty
(Gen. xviii. and xix. 2; compare Jud. ii. 1; vi. 12); the chariots are of
fire, and so are the horses (2 Kings vi. 17); but they are also clouds
(Ps. civ. 3).

13. They are taught military discipline and arranged in "legions" (Matt
xxvi. 53).

14. They are sexless (Mark xii. 25), yet were men when they appeared to
Abraham, Sarah, and the Sodomites (Gen. xviii, xix.).

15. They are liable to do wrong, and will be judged by men, some time or
other (1 Oor. vi. 2, 3). As in this passage the angels are put below the
saints, and in Gen. xviii. and xix., it is clear that Elohim and Jehovah
were angels, it follows that holy men, when raised, will be superior to
the power that gave them heaven!

16. Though sexless, the angels, or sons of God, may be captivated by the
beauty of woman, and engender giants with them in a very human fashion
(Gen. vi).

17. They are very sensitive respecting the hair of women, and require
it to be covered in worship--at other times they probably are not so
particular. Although they minister upon those who are heirs of salvation
(Heb. i. 14), they might be tempted from their business, if they were to
see a pretty snood in golden tresses hid (1 Cor. xi. 10).

18. Every child has an angel, or rather angels, to look after it (Matt,
xviii. 10), which leads to the belief that the number of angels has
increased since the sixty-eighth Psalm was written, when there were only
20,000, and perhaps a few more.*

     * The words of the christian father, Tertullian, upon this
     subject are so very apposite to our subject of angels, that
     I am tempted to quote them--Clark's edition, vol. i. p. 487-

     Speaking to the heathens, he says--"And you are not content
     to assert the divinity of such as were once known to you,
     whom you heard and handled, and whose portraits have been
     painted, and actions recounted, and memory retained amongst
     you; but men insist upon consecrating with a heavenly life,
     i.e.t they insist on deifying, I know not what incorporeal
     inanimate shadows and the names of things, dividing man's
     entire existence amongst separate powers, even from his
     conception in the womb, so that there is a god (read
     _angel_) Consevius, to preside over concubital generation,
     and Fluviona to preserve the infant in the womb; after these
     come Vitumnus and Sentinus through whom the babe begins to
     have life and its earliest sensation; then Diespiter, by
     whose office the child accomplishes its birth. But when
     women begin their parturition Candelifera also comes in aid,
     since child-bearing requires the light of the candle; and
     other goddesses there are (such as Lucina, Partula, Nona,
     Décima, and Alemona) who get their names from the parts they
     bear in the stages of travail There were two Carmentas
     likewise, according to the general view.   To one of them,
     called Postverta, belonged the function of assisting the
     birth of the malpresented child; whilst the other, Prosa or
     Prorso, executed the like office for the rightly born. The
     god Farinus was so called from his inspiring the first
     utterance, whilst others believed in Locutius from his gift
     of speech. Cunina is present as the protector of the child's
     deep slumber, and supplies to it refreshing rest. To lift
     them when fallen there is Levana, and along with her Rumina
     (from the old word _ruma_, a teat). It is a wonderful
     oversight that no gods were appointed for clearing up the
     filth of children. Then to preside over their first pap and
     earliest drink you have Potina and Edula; to teach the child
     to stand erect is the work of Statina (or Statilinus),
     whilst Adeona helps him to come to dear mamma-, and Abeona
     to toddle back again. Then there is Domiduca, to bring home
     the bride, and the goddess Mens, to influence the mind to
     either good or evil. They have likewise Volumnus and Voleta,
     to control the will; Paventina, the goddess of fear;
     Venilia, of hope; Volnpia, of pleasure; Praastitia, of
     beauty. Then, again, they give his name to Peragenor, from
     his teaching men to go through their work; to Consus, from
     his suggesting to them counsel. Juventa is their guide on
     assuming the manly gown, and 'bearded Fortune,' when they
     come to full manhood. If I must touch on their nuptial
     duties, there is Afferenda, whose appointed function is to
     see to the offering of the dower. But fie on you--you have
     your Mutunus, and Tutunus, and Pertunda, and Subigus, and
     the goddess Prema, and likewise Perfica. O spare yourselves,
     ye impudent gods."

19. Some angels are evil, but are much the same as the good (Ps. lxxviii
49), in their power of doing mischief.

20. Every heir of salvation has an angel to minister to him in some way
or other (Heb. i. 14); so have Roman babies--see note.

21. The angels are only a trifle superior to men (Ps. viii. 5), and in
the invisible world will be inferior to them if the latter be saints (1
Cor. vi. 3; Heb. ii. 5).

22. They can speak all sorts of languages (1 Cor. xiii. 1); that which
Michael and the devil used (Jude 9) has not been revealed to us.

23. They use a trumpet, probably as immaterial as themselves, and make a
great noise thereby (Matt xxiv. 31); and horses (Zech. i. and Rev. vi).

24. They have wings and can fly (Rev. viii. 13; xiv. 6), although they
are chariots.

25. When on earth they are clothed with a long white garment, have a
face like lightning, and one can appear to be two, or not appear at all
to some, though very distinctly seen by others (see Matt xxviii. 2, 3;
Mark xvi. 5; Luke xxiv. 4; John xx. 12).

Of all the angels mentioned in the Apocalypse we need not write. One
of the best accounts I have met with of the angelic mythology of
the Hebrews is in Coheleth, or The Book of Ecclesiastes, by Rev. Dr.
Ginsburg (Longman, London, 1861). It is written in explanation of Ch. v.
5, wherein is the expression, "Do not say before the angel that it was
error" (page 340), and the following remarks are condensed therefrom:--
"The angels occupy different rank and offices--seven of them as the
highest functionaries; princes or archangels surround the throne of God
and form the cabinet--(1) Michael, the prime minister, the guardian
of the Jewish nation, the opponent of Satan (Zech. iii. 1, 2), of the
prince of Persia (Dan. x. 13, 20), the conservator of the corpse of
Moses (Jude 9), and the dragon (Rev. xii); (2) Raphael, who presides
over the sanitary affairs (Tobit iii. 17, xii. 15)--'When God would cure
any sick person,' says St. Jerome, 'he sends the archangel Raphael, one
of the seven spirits before his throne, to accomplish the cure.' There
can be little doubt that this was the angel who went down at certain
seasons to move the waters of the pool to cure the impotent people (John
v. 4); (3) Gabriel, the messenger to announce or to effect deliverance,
also a presence angel (Luke i. 11-20, 26-35); (4) Uriel, mentioned
in Esdras (2 b., ch. iv., w. 1 and 20). In Targums these four are
represented as surrounding the throne of the divine majesty, but all do
not agree; Jonathan's arrangement is--Michael at the right, Uriel at the
left, Gabriel before, and Raphael behind.* The fifth, sixth, and seventh
archangels are Phaniel, Raguel, and Sarakiel."

     * An observation such as this distinctly shows how
     completely the ideas of angels are associated with gross

"Next to the cabinet comes the privy council, composed of four and
twenty crowned elders (1 Kings xxii. 19; Rev. iv. 4; vii. 13; viii. 3), who
surround the throne, before whom Christ will confess those who
confessed him. Then comes the council, consisting of the seventy angel
princes--the provincial governors presiding over the affairs of the
seventy nations into which the human family is divided." Hence the
Targumic paraphrase on Gen. xi. 7, 8--"_The Lord said to the seventy
presence angels, Come now and let us go down, and there let us confound
their language, so that one may not understand the language of the
other. And the Lord manifested himself against that city, and with him
were the seventy angels according to the seventy nations_." Hence the
Septuagint translation of Deut xxxii. 8--"When the Most High divided
the nations... he set the boundaries... according to the number of the
angels." The doctor also notices the four angels mentioned in Zech. vi,
who seem to have the management of four great monarchies, but he
does not advert to the angels of the seven churches spoken of in the
Apocalypse. He then proceeds--"Then comes the innumerable company of
presence angels, since every individual has a guardian angel as well
as every nation"... St Jerome, remarking upon Matt, xviii. 10,
says,--"_Great is the dignity of these little ones, for every one of
them has from his very birth an angel dedicated to guard him_."* When
St. Peter was chained in his prison, his angel released him (Acts xiii.
7,11), and the damsel who opened a house door for him was told that he
who was knocking was Peter's angel.

     * We have never been able to see the force of this remark,
     unless the idea of children having guardian angels was
     associated with the belief that these beings left them when
     they grew up. If the adults standing round Jesus had each an
     individual warden, there would be nothing peculiar in the
     warning given in the verse referred to. It is, however, just
     possible that the notion existed that it was to adults only
     that tutelary spirits were assigned, and that the prophet of
     Nazareth declared that each infant had a protecting genius
     as well as every man.

Then there are angels who preside over all the phenomena of nature.
One presides over the sun (Eev. xix. 17); angels guard the storm and
lightning (Ps. civ. 4); four angels have charge over the four winds
(Rev. vii. 1, 2); an angel presides over the waters (Rev. xvi. 5); and
another over the temple altar (Rev. xiv. 18).

We need not pursue this subject further; enough has been said to show
that the Hebrew ideas of angels differ in no essential respect from
those of other nations, who, if not older than the Jews, were certainly
never influenced by the Hebrews. From the evidence before us, we are
constrained to believe that the knowledge which we assume to possess of
the celestial court has descended to us from heathen or pagan sources,
and that the pictorial designs which pass current for likenesses of
angels or archangels have descended from Egyptians, Assyrians, Persians,
Grecians, Etruscans, and Romans, and cannot pretend to anything
approaching to a revelation from God.

We have already remarked that the Hebrew notions of the heavenly
hierarchy are evidence of a gross anthropomorphism; they indicate a
belief in the existence of a monarch having a face and back, a right
hand and a left, ears and a mouth, and a wherewithal for sitting upon a
throne--the part which was shown, as we are told, to Moses; they tell of
a theology that recognizes places in the universe where God is not, and
of which He has no cognizance save through messengers. If this be so,
what shall we say of the hagiology which tells us that there was on one
occasion a conspiracy amongst the courtiers of the celestial ruler, a
discovery of treason, and a punishment of the offenders as dire as the
most malignant man could invent? We have often thought that no human
being, unless he were vile, brutal, sensual, clever, disappointed, and
revengeful, could have invented the idea of hell, and that none would
ever have believed in it unless he was both timid, thoughtless, and
malignant The dormant hate of the orthodox against opponents is an
awful quantity. The expression of "fallen angels" is a pregnant text; it
recalls to our mind the passage--"Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom
I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against
me" (Ps. xli. 9). It reminds us of David, Absalom and Ahitophel, of
Solomon and Jeroboam, of Joram and Jehu, Benhadad and Hazael, Louis
XVIII. and Marshal Ney. We feel sure that an individual who could
write the words--"If we sin wilfully after that we have received the
knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but
a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which
shall devour the adversaries" (Heb. x. 26, 27), could readily have
invented a hell, if he had not found one already made to his hand. The
sentence just quoted bears evidence of intense theological spitefulness,
and a petty meanness that neither Sakya nor Jesus would have shown. Such
thoughts are womanish, not manly, although apostolic.

We can fancy it having been penned by James or John, who once asked
Jesus whether they should not call down fire from heaven to consume
the Samaritans, simply because the latter were not polite to the
master--"because he seemed to be going to Jerusalem" (Luke ix. 53, 54).
But if so, those disciples must have forgotten the rebuke of Jesus--"Ye
know not what manner of spirit ye are of."

Here we must pause awhile, and consider the idea of various peoples
about Hell.

Some, perhaps we ought to say, many, earthly potentates have encouraged
the belief that there is a place in which evildoers, who have escaped
punishment for crime in this world will, after their death here, receive
their deserts. A place of torment which no man has seen, or can see
in life, and which, consequently, anyone can describe, is a wonderful
supplement to imperfect police arrangements, and as such, has been
fabricated or adopted in various nations. But in all the nations of
antiquity, and those which we call pagan, Hell has been assigned to
those who have committed crimes upon earth, such as murder, theft, and
the like, and whose evil deeds have outnumbered their good ones. The
idea of a torture vault for heretics has, so far as I can learn, been
reserved for Christian times, and for nations who punish ecclesiastical
offences more severely than the most atrocious crimes. The papal church,
wherever she has had power, has punished rejection of her communion far
more cruelly than she has dealt with rape, robbery, and murder; and all,
who think with her, draw their arguments for so doing from what is said
to be God's method of dealing with His rebellious angels. Surely, the
idea runs, if the Almighty, who cannot do wrong, has punished with fire
and everlasting torment the ministers who stood in His presence and
around His throne, simply because they kept not their position, or did
not watch over their principality--for both meanings may be assigned
to the original words--surely man must treat his heretic fellow on
a similar plan. God, runs the argument, made the Devil, and man must
multiply his imps. It is true, according to Hebrew and Christian
mythology, that the idea of a Devil was not originally in the mind of
Jehovah. But when Satan rebelled he was immediately invested with power!
In other words, Lucifer taught Elohim, and thoughtful Christians believe

If we now attempt to frame a history of the modern Hell, its rulers,
its angels, or its devils, we find, in the first place, that the Old
Testament contains no idea whatever of Satan being an angel originally
bright and fair, but subsequently disobedient, rebellious, conquered,
and punished. Nor is the New Testament much more communicative--we
find the arch-fiend described as a murderer and as a liar; he also is
associated with angels, as in the words, "the Devil and his angels."
He is described as "the Prince of the power of the air,"--as "a roaring
lion, seeking whom he may devour." He is "the spirit which worketh in
the children of disobedience." He is also represented as telling Jesus,
that he is able to dispose of all the kingdoms of the globe, and to give
their glory to whom he will. Yet nowhere is a hint breathed that he
was once an angel in heaven. The only verse in the whole Bible which is
supposed to bear upon this matter, shows that the devil and his imps
are not identical with the fallen angels, for Jude distinctly declares
(verse 6) that the latter are "reserved in everlasting chains, under
darkness, unto the judgment of the great day," a condition quite
incompatible with their identity with Satan, who is represented as
telling God that he had been going to and fro through the earth, and
walking up and down in it (Job ch. i., v. 7). A conversation then
follows the question, which must have been quite impossible had God
recognized him as an escaped convict.

Again, if we turn to the book of Enoch (an apocryphal production,
supposed for ages to have been lost, but discovered at the close of the
last century in Abyssinia, now first translated from an Ethiopian MS. in
the Bodleian Library, by Richard Laurence, LL.D., Archbishop of Cashel;
3d edition, 8vo. Oxford, 1838),--which is, and I think justly, believed
to be the authority quoted by Jude, we find a full confirmation of our
view of the independence of the Devil or Satan, and the fallen angels.
The foundation of the work is the story-told in the sixth chapter of
Genesis. In that work, the angels which kept not their first estate are
described as those who preferred intercourse with human females to
a celestial celibacy, for in those days there were sons of God and
daughters of men. Nay, in one verse (chap, liii. 6) it is distinctly
declared that one cause why the wrath of God came upon them was that
"they became ministers of Satan, and seduced those who dwell upon the
earth." In many places a reference is made to the close imprisonment of
the angels who had "been polluted with women;" one such will suffice,
(chap, xxi. 6), where, on seeing a terrific place, Enoch is told by Uriel
"this is the prison of the angels, and here are they kept for ever."
It is not even Satan who tempts the angels, for chapter lxviii. tells us
that it was Yekun and Kesabel, two of themselves, who gave evil counsel,
and induced their fellows to corrupt their bodies by generating mankind.
It is clear that such a writer does not conceive the possible existence
of angelic women.

The nearest approach to evidence of identification is the statement made
in the same chapter (w. 6, 7), that Gradrel was the name of one of the
leaders of the fallen, and that he seduced Eve. But this testimony is
wholly worthless in the face of the fact that he, like all his company,
are kept chained up, which Satan certainly is not.

From the foregoing facts and considerations, we can come to no other
conclusion than that there is no truth in the angelic mythology current
amongst ourselves--for which Milton and his _Paradise Lost_ are mainly
responsible. We may, indeed, affirm that a belief in angelic mythology
is wholly incompatible with an enlightened religion. If we regard the
Almighty as omnipresent and omniscient, we cannot imagine that He can
require messengers, or organize an "intelligence department" in Heaven.
A man who is present with his family requires no servant to tell him
what each is doing, or to deliver his orders to one or other. So, if God
be always with us, it is downright blasphemy to say that He requires a
go-between to let Him know what we are doing, or what He wishes us to

In our next chapter we shall enter upon the consideration of a subject
closely allied to that of Angels--namely, that of Ghosts, Apparitions,
Disembodied Spirits, or by whatever name they are called. These mainly
differ from the beings of whom we have treated in the fact that, whereas
an angel is a messenger--one sent to do certain duties--a ghost is a
being who comes upon the scene, which he or she has quitted, to do or to
persuade somebody else to perform something that has been omitted to be
done during the life-time of the deceased. In nine-tenths of the stories
which we read of "revenans," the returned one is not sent as a
messenger, nor does he come for any definite purpose. A man or woman
barbarously murdered is painted as haunting the scene where the violence
was committed, as flies flit over a carcase. Misers come to brood over
their hoards, not to use them. In no case which I can remember do the
tales represent the ghosts as being sent from either of the two
powers--God and Satan; and to fancy that a deceased man or woman is a
free agent after death is, to say the least of it, a proof that the
believers in the doctrine do not believe the biblical text--"As the tree
falleth so it must lie."

The ideas of Angels and of Ghosts have their origin in what may be
called a superstitious education; and credence in the latter is an
almost necessary pendant to a belief in the former. Indeed, if we put
ourselves into the position of Manoah's wife, Zacharias (Luke i), and
Mary, we feel sure that we should not have known whether the being who
appeared was an angel or a ghost.

Note.--The reader interested in the subject of this chapter, will find
additional information thereupon in Records of the Past (Bag-ster,
London, 1873-74; vol. i. 131-135, and vol. iii.139-154). The volumes
are inexpensive, and extremely valuable to the student of Assyrian,
Babylonian, and Egyptian mythology.


     The inexorable logic of facts. Saul and the witch of Endor.
     Influence of Elisha's bones. The widow's son. Ideas about
     ghosts--about their power. Papal belief in ghosts. Ritual
     for exorcisms. St. Dunstan and St. Anthony. The Bible and
     ghosts. Scriptural ghosts. Ghosts independent of Judaism and
     Christianity. Japanese story. Buddhist priests, like
     Papalists, exorcise ghosts professionally. Ancient Grecian
     ghosts. Stories from Homer, Herodotus, Iamblichus. Modern
     French ghosts. Latin ghosts. Ghosts and lunacy. Ghosts and
     spiritualism. Mistakes of clairvoyantes.

It is not until we systematically inquire into certain tenets of our
own belief, and compare or contrast them with those of other people far
removed from us, that we are able to form an opinion about how much we
owe to what we call "our peculiar religion," and how much we hold in
common with other distant members of the human family.

It is probable that there is scarcely a "Bible Christian" in Great
Britain who is not impressed with the truth of the statement made in 2
Tim. i. 10--_viz_., that Christ abolished death, and brought life and
immortality to light by the Gospel. But the inexorable logic of facts
proves to us that the idea of a life after death existed even amongst
some ancient Jews--a people to whom it was certainly not revealed by
God--and amongst nations who have not to this day become acquainted with
Jesus, or what we call the Gospel, and who are mainly influenced by the
doctrines of Buddha.

To give examples: no one can read the very fabulous story of the Witch
of Endor and Saul without recognizing the fact, that both the one and
the other are represented by the historian to have believed, that,
though the body of the prophet Samuel had been rotting for a long period
in its tomb, the spirit of the man was yet existent. Nor does a Bible
Christian see anything peculiar in the miracle of the restoration of the
dead man mentioned in 2 Kings xiii. 21, who, when he touched the mouldy
bones of Elisha, which represented all that was left, on earth, of that
distinguished wonder-worker, at once revived, and stood upon his feet.
But the story forces us to believe that the Hebrew writer, who had no
revelation from Jehovah about a future life, was, from some cause or
other, obliged to allow that the prophet had some sort of existence
after his decease. A similar remark may be made respecting the story of
the widow's son, given in 1 Kings xvii. 17-23, in which it is clear that
both the mother of the child and the prophet believed it to be dead,
although the latter acted as if there was yet its living spirit existing
somewhere, and capable of being recalled. No simple figure of speech
will explain away the doctrine referred to, for there is reference
distinctly made to the idea of a life independent of that of the body.

It may well be supposed, that the very extraordinary tales spoken of
were introduced into the ancient books by modern Pharisees, as proofs
of their faith being superior to that of the Sadducees--it is, indeed,
probable that they were so; but into this point we will not enter. We
pass by, in like manner, the real signification of the English word
"ghost," and make no reference to the idea of there being a Holy, in
contradistinction to a profane, vulgar, and unholy, ghost We may also
omit anything more than a bare allusion to the fact that the third
member of the Trinity, as it is called, appeared in forms recognizable
by the eye; and that when it assumed an overshadowing condition (Luke
i. 35), it acted as a male human body would have done, and impregnated
Mary, as Jupiter did Leda. It is rather my desire to call attention to
the ideas actually existing, probably in all Christendom, and certainly
in Great Britain, respecting "ghosts." They may be thus described.

It is believed by many that certain individuals have, during their
lifetime, a power of determining that some immaterial part of their
living body shall, after death, assume the figure and proportions
possessed by the person during life, as well as his clothes, &c., and
act as if this second self had a real existence, recognizable by men,
animals, and even candles,* and a definite worldly purpose. In other
cases it is assumed, that the defunct has not had any particular desire
to return to life until after his death has taken place; but that his
spirit, having as much power to think without its brains as with them,
makes itself apparent with a distinct object, formed, not in the living
body, but in the corpse. The purposes generally attributed to ghosts
are, to give information about murder or money, to compel religious
rites over their dead body, or to punish a relentless oppressor with
daily horror. Still further, some suppose that ghosts are doomed for
a certain time to walk the earth, and suffer during the day in fires
perpetual, till, in some unknown way, the sins of their bodies have been
purged away, or until some one, living, has made an atonement for
sins committed and unpardoned during the lifetime of the "revenant"
(Shakespeare in Hamlet). The so-called disembodied spirits are supposed
to be able to operate upon matter, to throw our atmosphere into waves,
producing vision and hearing, and to move from one spot to another. They
have, still farther, the power of making and emitting light, and are so
partial to using the faculty, that they prefer appearing by night, and
in darkness.

     * "And the lights in the chamber burnt blue."

     --Alonzo the Brave.--Lewis.

Of the real existence of such ghostly beings no devout Romanist can fail
to convince himself; for his Church, which claims to be infallible, has
provided special services for combating them, and a Papal priest has,
many a time, claimed, and attempted to exercise, the power to drive what
the French call "revenans," from the earth into the Red Sea. The saintly
annals of the Church of Rome are filled with stories of angels, gods,
and devils, who have appeared to holy men of old, either to applaud
their conduct, or to try their faith The legends about Saint Dunstan
and Saint Anthony are too well known to require repetition here, and
it would be idle to refer to some particularly good ghost story, when
everybody knows so many.

The general credit obtained by the tales referred to has been attributed
by many to the teaching of the Bible. The apparition of Samuel to Saul;
the intercourse between the angel Raphael and Tobit; the manifestation
of some celestial beings to Zacharias (Luke i. 11); to Mary (v. 28);
to certain shepherds (Luke ii. 9); the statement that some men have
entertained angels unawares (Heb. xiii. 2); the transfiguration scene,
described in Matt, xvii. and Mark ix., in which Moses and Elias are said
to have returned from heaven to earth, with the design of comforting
Jesus; and the story of Peter and the angel, told in Acts xii. 6-15--all
indicate a firm belief in the existence of ghosts, and form the
Christian's warrant for believing in them.

But an extended knowledge of the belief entertained by people other
than the followers of Jesus shows that the idea in question is wholly
independent of both Judaism and Christianity. A credence in ghosts is
profound in Japan, and it resembles, in every respect, that which has
been so long current in Europe. If any one, for example, will read a
story in A B. Mitford's _Tales of Old Japan_ (Macmillan; London, 1871),
entitled, "The Ghost of Sakura," a village, he will scarcely be able to
divest himself of the idea that the legend is of British origin. Without
going into the reasons which have convinced me that the writer has
fairly given a purely Japanese tale, and one wholly untainted by Popish
legends, I may shortly indicate the main points in the narrative, which
purports to be a true one. A certain lord behaved very badly to his
tenants, increasing the imposts upon them until life became a burden. By
ordinary petitions he was unmoved, and it was necessary to have recourse
to unusual means. The adoption of a promising plan was, in the mind of
its proposer, a positive passport to a cruel death, by crucifixion. In a
touching leave-taking of his wife, he ends his speech with the words--"I
give my life to allay the misery of the people of this estate" (vol. ii,
p. 12). His proceedings save the poor peasants, for whom he sacrifices
himself, from utter ruin--every grievance which they have is redressed;
but their saviour is condemned to be crucified, in which punishment
his wife is included, and his sons are to be beheaded before his face.
Unable to save the man, his nearest male friends become priests, and
end their days praying and making offerings on behalf of their friends'
souls, and those of the wife and offspring (p. 25), and they collect
money enough to erect six bronze memorial Buddhas. "Thus," the tale goes
on to say, "did these men, for the sake of Sogoro and his family, give
themselves up to works of devotion; and the other villagers also brought
food to soothe the spirits of the dead, and prayed for their entry into
Paradise; and, as litanies were repeated without intermission, there
can be no doubt that Sogoro attained salvation." The next sentence is a
Buddhist text, viz.:--

"In Paradise, where the blessings of God are distributed without
favour, the soul learns its faults by the measure of the rewards given.
The lusts of the flesh are abandoned, and the soul, purified, attains
to the glory of Buddha." I scarcely need mention, to those interested
in Buddhism, that this conception of Paradise is very different to that
which many persons uphold to be "nothingness." The Japanese "Nirvana" is
evidently not annihilation.

When Sogoro was to die, the friendly priests entreated the authorities
that they might have his body, so as to be able to bury it decently;
but the request was only granted after the corpse had been exposed three
days and three nights.

At the time appointed, Sogoro and his wife are tied to two crosses, and
their children brought out for decapitation. The utterance of the eldest
son (æt. 13) is very touching--"Oh my father and mother, I am going
before you to Paradise, that happy country, to wait for you. My little
brothers and I will be on the banks of the river Sandzu,* and stretch
out our hands, and help you across. Farewell, all you who have come
to see us die; and now, please cut off my head at once." With this he
stretched out his neck, murmuring a last prayer (p. 28).

     * The Buddhist Styx, which separates Paradise from Hell,
     across which the dead are ferried by an old woman, for whom
     a small piece of money is buried with them. I may add that
     such a custom obtains amongst the lower orders in Ireland to
     this day.

At length it is the parents turn to die, and thus speaks the
wife--"Remember, my husband, that from the first you had made up your
mind to this fate. What though our bodies be disgracefully exposed on
these crosses? (compare Gal. iii. 13). We have the promises of the Gods
before us; therefore, mourn not. Let us fix our minds upon death; we are
drawing near to Paradise, and shall soon be with the saints. Be calm, my
husband. Let us cheerfully lay down our lives for the good of many. Man
lives but for one generation, his name for many. A good name is more to
be prized than life." "Well said wife; what though we are punished for
the many? our petition was successful, and there is nothing left to wish
for..... For myself, I care not; but that my wife and children should
be punished also is too much.... Let my lord fence himself in with iron
walls, yet shall my spirit burst through them, and crush his bones, as a
return for this deed." As he said this, he looked like the demon Razetsu
(p. 30). The execution is completed by thrusting a spear into the side
until it comes out at the opposite shoulder, and as it is withdrawn, the
blood streams out like a fountain. Ere Sogoro dies, he again threatens
his lord to revenge himself upon him in a manner never to be forgotten,
and adds--"As a sign, when I am dead, my head shall turn and face
towards the castle. When you see this, doubt not that my words shall
come true" (p. 31). As Sogoro laid down his life for a noble cause, he
was canonized, and became a tutelar deity of his lord's family. After
the execution, those subordinates of the lord of the land were dismissed
from their office, who, by their culpable and vile conduct, had made
such a catastrophe necessary--a retribution that reminds the reader of
that which is said to have fallen on the Jews, because of a death by
crucifixion which they brought about. The Japanese historian then goes
on (p. 34)--"In the history of the world, from the dark ages down to the
present time, there are few instances of one man laying down his life
for the many, as Sogoro did; noble and peasant praise him alike."

Four years after this the ghosts of Sogoro and of his wife and family
begin to torment their late cruel lord. His lady is gradually frightened
to death; the crucified couple appear to her and to her husband in a far
more fearful form than Jesus is said to have appeared to Constantine.
They threaten both with the pains of Hell, and declare that they have
come to take them there; and with them come other ghosts, who hoot,
yell, laugh, and come and go at pleasure. No one, not even priests,
could quiet the frightful sounds, or get rid of the horrible sights.
Violence was wholly unavailing; mystic rites, incantations, and
prayers were alike useless. The visions appeared at first by day, but
subsequently by night. They were visible to everybody. But, after a long
consultation, the once brutal, but now humbled, nobleman agrees to erect
a shrine to the crucified man, and to pay him divine honours. This was
done: Sogoro became a saint, under the name of Sogo Daimiyo, and the
ghosts appeared no more. But terrible misfortunes fall upon the Lord
Kotsuke, and he "began to feel that the death of his wife, and his own
present misfortunes, were a just retribution for the death of Sogoro and
his wife and children, and he was as one awakened from a dream. Then,
night and morning, in his repentance, he offered up prayers to the
sainted spirit of the dead farmer, acknowledged and bewailed his
crime, vowing that, if his own family were spared from ruin, and
re-established, intercession should be made at the court of the Mikado
on behalf of the spirit of Sogoro, so that, being worshipped with even
greater honours than before, his name should be handed down to all
generations" (p. 43). In a foot note we learn that the Mikado of Japan
could, like the Pope of Rome, confer posthumous divine honours upon whom
he pleased. The tale tells us that, by the means just before alluded
to, the spirit of Sogoro was appeased, and then positively became his
quondam enemy's patron saint, and was universally respected in all that
part of the country. His shrine was made beautiful as a gem, and night
and day the devout worshipped at it Mitford adds (p. 47)--"The belief in
ghosts appears to be as universal as that of the immortality of the soul
upon which it depends. Both in China and Japan the departed spirit is
invested with the power of revisiting the earth, and, in a visible form,
tormenting its enemies, and haunting those places where the perishable
part of it mourned and suffered. Haunted houses are slow to find
tenants, for ghosts almost always come with revengeful intent; indeed,
the owners of such houses will almost pay men to live in them, such is
the dread which they inspire, and the anxiety to blot out the stigma."

The parallel between an episode in Palestine, and that herein described
as having occurred in Japan, will be completed if the reader remembers
the passage in the Epistle to the Romans, wherein Paul, after speaking
of the fall of the Jews, subsequent to the death of Jesus--who gave
his life for others--remarks, "if the casting away of them be the
reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be but life
from the dead" (Rom. xi. 15).

In addition to the ghost story above described, many others are detailed
by Mr Mitford that are exact counterparts of some of those most
firmly believed by orthodox Christians, and most commonly met with in
novelettes and magazines. We give a digest of them--

A paterfamilias is thrown into prison for gambling. After being confined
some time, he returns home one night pale and thin, and, after receiving
congratulations, he tells the friends assembled that he is permitted
to leave the prison that evening by the jailers, for that he is to be
returned to them the next day publicly. When the time arrives, they are
summoned to remove his corpse--he had died the night before, and it was
his ghost which had appeared. Compare Acts v. 19, and xii. 7-14.

The next runs thus--A cruel policeman had a housemaid, who broke one of
ten plates which he valued--she confessed the accident to the mistress.
When the master came to hear of the loss, he tied the girl to a
cupboard, and cut off one of her fingers daily. She managed to escape,
and drowned herself in the garden well. Every night afterwards there
was a noise from the well, counting up to nine, and then came a burst
of grief. All the retainers left the place; the magistrate could not
perform his duties, and was dismissed. The ghost was ultimately laid by
a priest.

After recounting this story, Mitford remarks--"The laying of disturbed
spirits appears to form one of the regular functions of the Buddhist
priests; at least, we find them playing a conspicuous part in every
ghost story" (p. 50).

The next tale is one of a haunted house. No paying tenant will live
there, but a poor fencing master takes it for nothing. He first hears
a terrific noise in the garden pond, and, on looking, sees a dark cloud
enshrining a bald head. He inquires, and discovers that a former tenant,
ten years ago, murdered a money-lender, and threw his head into the
water. The actual tenant now drains the pond, finds the skull, takes it
for burial to a temple, causing prayers to be offered up for the repose
of the murdered man's soul. Thus the ghost was laid, and appeared no
more. This tale serves as an additional means of recognizing the descent
of Papism from Buddhism.

Returning once again to Europe, we find that the ancient Greeks had not
only an idea of the resurrection of the dead, and life after death, but
that departed spirits could be summoned to appear by the living. For
example, at the opening of the eleventh book of the Odyssey, Ulysses
recounts how-he offered a certain sacrifice, and tells us that, after
it, the souls of the perished dead came forth from Erebus--betrothed
girls and youths--much enduring old men, and tender virgins having
a newly grieved mind--and many Mars-renowned men, wounded with
brass-tipped spears, possessing gore-smeared arms, who in great numbers
were wandering about the trench, on different sides, with a divine
clamour, and pale fear seized upon me.... At first the soul of my
companion, Elpenor, came, for he was not yet buried.... The shade
addressed the hero, and, after telling the manner of his own death,
entreats to have his corpse burned, and a tomb to be placed over it
After this shade, appears Ulysses' mother, then Theban Tiresias, having
a golden sceptre (Bohn's translation, pp. 147, 8). The rest of the
book is made up of a number of dialogues between the traveller and the
illustrious dead.

The following, from Herodotus (vi. 68, 69), might have been introduced
into chapter viii, for it is not only an example of a ghost, but of
supernatural generation--but it is most appropriate here. Demaratus,
having been twitted by certain persons that he was not the son of his
putative father, who was known to be impotent, and that he was begotten
by a mean man--a feeder of asses--adjures his mother, by a most solemn
oath, to tell the truth. She replies--When Ariston had taken me to
his own house, on the third night from the first a spectre, resembling
Ariston, came to me, and having lain with me, put on me a crown that it
had, it departed, and afterwards Ariston came; but when he saw me with
the crown, he asked who it was that gave it me. I said, he did; but he
would not admit it.... Ariston, seeing that I affirmed with an oath,
discovered that the event was superhuman; and, in the first place, the
crown proved to have come from the shrine... situate near the palace
gates, which they call Astrabacus's; and, in the next place, the seers
pronounced that it was the hero himself. We need not dwell upon the
miracle, being only desirous to show that, in the time of Herodotus,
ideas of the return of departed spirits to earth were common--had it not
been so, the story would not have been conceived. See also _Herod_ iv.
14, 15; _Æsch Theb_. 710; _cf. Porson on Eur_. Or. 401; _Æsch Ag_. 415.

Perhaps the most striking example of a phantom is given in Herodotus
viii. 84, where a spectre, in a woman's form, appeared, and cheered the
Greeks on shipboard to a battle, saying, so that all the warriors heard
her--"Dastards, how long will you back water?"

In more recent times, Iamblicus (on the _Mysteries_, section ii, chap,
iv.), speaking of different celestial and ordinarily invisible
powers, observes--"In the motions of the heroic phasmata (or
apparitions--phantoms or ghosts) a certain magnificence presents itself
to the view." In the phasmata of the Archons the first energies appear
to be most excellent and authoritative, and the phasmata of souls are
seen to be the more moveable, yet are more imbecile, than those of
heroes.... The magnitude of the epiphanies (or manifestations) in the
gods, indeed, is so great, as sometimes to conceal all heaven.1' Then
the author describes how this brilliancy is less in each inferior order
of spirits, and is smallest in those souls below the grade of heroes
(Taylor's translation, pp. 89, 90). In sect iii., chap, iii., the same
writer remarks--"The soul has a twofold life, one being in conjunction
with the body, the other being separated from all body." Again, in
chap. xxxi.--"Still worse is the explanation of sacred operations, which
assigns, as the cause of divination, a certain genus of daemons, which
is naturally fraudulent, omniform, and various, and which assumes the
appearance of gods and daemons, and the souls of the deceased" (Taylor's
ed., p. 199). _Le Dictionnaire Infernal_, which I have previously
described, gives two very modern-like histories from the Greeks, under
the names Philinnion and Polycritus; but, as I cannot verify them by
reference, I shall say no more of them.

When we come to speak about the Romans, the first history which occurs
to my mind is the well-known statement, that the ghost of Cæsar appeared
to Brutus before the battle in which the latter met with his death. The
narrator of the story dwells somewhat upon the coolness with which the
living hero encounters the shade of the dead, as if it were strange for
people, when they saw ghosts, not to be terrified. I think that we may
believe in the Etruscans having an idea of invisible spirits becoming
occasionally apparent, inasmuch as in a sepulchral painting, in the tomb
of the Tarquinii, the shade of Patroclus is represented as standing over
Achilles as he kills the Trojan captives in sacrifice.

In later times, Otho declared that Galba's ghost had appeared to him,
and had tumbled him out of bed (Suetonius' _Lives of the Caesars_, Otho,

We may take our next illustration from Cicero upon the nature of the
gods. In book 2, ch. ii.,--"Who now," he makes Lucilius say, "believes
in Hippocentaurs and Chimeras? or what old woman is now to be found so
weak and ignorant as to stand in fear of those infernal monsters which
once so terrified mankind? For time destroys the fictions of error and
opinion, whilst it confirms the determinations of nature and truth. And
therefore it is that, both amongst us and amongst other nations, sacred
institutions and the divine worship of the gods have been strengthened
and improved from time to time; and this is not to be imputed to chance
alone, but to the frequent appearance of the gods themselves. In the war
with the Latins... Castor and Pollux were seen fighting with our army
on horseback... and as P. Vatienus... was coming in the night to Rome...
two young men on white horses appeared to him, and told him that king
Perses was that day taken prisoner." He told the news and was imprisoned
as a liar; but further information confirmed the ghost's story, and he
was liberated and rewarded."... The voices of the Fauns have been often
heard, and deities have appeared in forms so visible that they have
compelled everyone, who is not senseless or hardened in impiety, to
confess the presence of the gods" (Bohn's translation, p. 46). In page
186 of the same edition, two remarkable instances are given wherein
supernatural voices told of approaching trouble, and how it was to be
avoided. No notice was taken of the warning, and the misfortunes which
had been foretold occurred. The second miracle very closely resembled
the modern voice of the Virgin at Lourdes.

Whilst I was writing the preceding remarks, my attention was called by
a friend to the following remarks in _The Examiner_, which seem to me so
appropriate to this chapter and the preceding one, that I gladly
quote them:--"If there is anything more striking than the thoughtless
credulity with which men accept statements agreeing with their
preconceptions, it is the stubborn incredulity with which they receive
statements at variance with those preconceptions. The devotees of each
religion, and even of each sect into which a religion is so commonly
split up, accept and even adore the absurdities of their own belief,
while they scan, with a sceptical severity that cannot be surpassed, the
not greater follies of other systems of belief. In no respect is this
fact more glaring than in the case of miracles. Each Church has its
own special miracles, devoutly believed in, but repels with contempt
or horror the alleged miracles of other religions. Happy that it is so.
Were superstition not in its essence and nature a dividing folly, could
it but muster in one herd all its votaries, common sense and truth would
have a hard battle for existence."

At this point of my subject, I feel the natural inclination of a
physician to enter upon those changes in the nervous centres which
induce individuals to hear, feel, and see, noises, sensations, and
spectra, which have no real existence. But with the majority of
experienced medical men, the matter is so well known that it would be
idle for me to dwell upon it, further than to say, that it is a matter
of fact that many an individual who hears and sees words and beings
which are illusions, acts upon them as if they were real. Many an
assault upon some quiet citizen, many an instance of wilful mischief,
and even of murder, is due to a communication made, apparently by a
supernatural visitor, to a person who has fully believed it. To a man
in his perfect senses the delusive character of a spectre, or a message
given in an audible voice may be readily recognized; but when an
individual has a diseased brain, all delusions seem real, and it is a
part of the affection that they are not only recognized, but acted on.

The question has often suggested itself to my own mind, "How much
has insanity of mind had to do with religion?" In modern times, the
psychologist can readily see how far Swedenborg, Johanna Southcote, and
many others, were influenced by a diseased condition of the brain; he
can also see indications of lunacy in Ezekiel and the author of Daniel.
But he is unable to prosecute the subject far without discovering that
mental weakness is often bolstered up by fraud. Nothing is more easy
than for an intelligent physician to understand the physical causes of
such visions as certain religionists have talked of. But when a
spurious miracle, like that of the apparition of a talking,
immaculately-conceived Virgin at Lourdes, is traded on, the occurrence
leaves the region of folly, and enters that of fraud. Into that it is
injudicious to enter here.

I may, however, advert to the current belief that certain individuals
in the same family have, for many succeeding generations, their death
foretold by some "wraith" or "phantom" appearing to them. This story is
probably founded upon the fact that hereditary brain disease exists in
the constitution of all such persons, and that its occurrence in each
victim is marked by an ocular, and, perhaps, some aural delusion. The
apparition may seem real to the diseased nervous system, though it has
no absolute existence.

We are then constrained to believe that the idea of ghosts has not
arisen, in the first place, from any peculiar form of religious belief,
but from the fact that in all inhabitants of the world there has existed
that form of insanity which consists in the victim believing that he
hears and sees individuals, inaudible and unseen by others. It is not,
however, necessary that there shall be insanity with the hallucinations
referred to; for I am personally acquainted with many individuals who
have both seen and heard, as they imagine, persons and voices, but of
whose sanity I have no doubt. Such delusions often come from overstudy,
or too great mental emotion; and the medical worker in his closet and
the Roman general in his tent may equally see a spirit.

But it must be understood that to all classes the hallucination has the
effect of reality, until, by the exercise of an active will, inquiry
proves that both sounds and sights thus noticed are illusions. If,
therefore, persons who have visions, &c., have not intellects which are
cultivated, the spectres will pass for realities, and, as such, will be

If we endeavour to apply this observation to certain cases, we shall
see how far the deductions are _vraisemblable_. Of all the causes which
produce atrocious crimes, insanity of mind is the most common. But this
cause is rarely recognized at the time, even in a country like our own.
Murder, rape, arson, and a host of other atrocities are often the first
evidence of a diseased brain. The doctor is assured of this long before
an ignorant public, and he traces without surprise the course of a
malady which is not seen by the vulgar, until its culmination in some
better known form of lunacy. These mental sufferers are exactly those
to whom visions are most common, and who are most unable to test the
reality of their hallucinations. If, then, they are integers of a people
to whom insanity is unknown, it is natural that their narratives will be
listened to with awe. The Japanese tyrant, whose case we have given,
was probably brutal from impending brain disease, and the visions which
appeared to him were caused by an increase of his malady.

Shakespeare has evidently taken this view of the question, for, in
_Macbeth_, he makes that hero (act ii., scene 1), soliloquise with a
dagger which he sees, but cannot clutch--"Art thou not, fatal vision,
sensible to feeling, as to sight, or art thou but a dagger of the mind;
a false creation, proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?" Conscious
of the illusion, Macbeth recognizes the probable cause; but, at a
later period, when the diseased brain is worse than it was before, the
unfortunate man is quite unable to reason, and we find him in act iii.,
scene 4, affrighted by the ghost of Banquo--whose appearance he believes
to be real, even although his wife recalls to his mind the dagger scene,
and reasons upon his weakness.

I do not think that we shall be far wrong if we assume that many
nations, who were not far advanced in mental speculation, obtained their
first ideas of the resurrection of the body from the hallucinations
of approaching or actual insanity. Christian divines unquestionably
endeavour to demonstrate the truth of the dogma referred to, by the
frequent appearance of Jesus to his disciples after his crucifixion.

But the manifestation of Jesus differed wholly from that of Moses
and Elias who once came to talk to him. He takes particular pains to
demonstrate to Thomas that he has flesh and blood and a hole in his
side, as well as in his hands and feet. This indicates that Jesus did
not die upon the cross, but that he fainted and came back to life.

To insist for a moment upon the lessons taught by the narrative in the
gospels, let us inquire what is the value of the argument which proves
the resurrection of the body, either by the appearance to some one of a
departed friend or enemy, or the visits of Jesus to his disciples. If it
is demonstrated thus that the body is eternal and will rise again, it is
equally certain that its garments, whether cloth, linen, or calico, will
be resuscitated also!

The subject, however, is not yet exhausted, for we have now to remark,
that no one has ever been known to see a spectre which does not
represent some one whom he has seen, or whose picture he has noticed;
nor does he ever hear a voice in a tongue unknown to himself.
Consequently, when we find individuals recognizing some one whose
portrait they have seen, but who talks in the mother tongue of the
visionary, we are forced to conclude that the matter is unreal. If a
French girl--or several of them, see the Virgin Mary, and hear her
talk French, it is evident to every thinking mind, either that there
is mental disorder or priestly craft. In like manner, when individuals,
calling themselves "mediums," declare their power to call before them
the ghosts of Homer and Hero, Leander and Alexander, and assert that
they can distinguish Plato from Socrates, and Seneca from Xenophon, and
can converse with all in pure English, it is clear that such people are
not insane, and that their pretended skill has no existence. That which
goes by the names of clairvoyance and spiritualism is based solely upon
an unreasoning credulity.

In speaking of a belief in "spiritualism" as being analogous to implicit
credence in ghosts--and both as being founded upon imperfection in
judgment, it is right that I should give some reasons for what I say.

More than thirty years have elapsed since I attended my first séance
with a clairvoyant. She had then been in Liverpool some time, and not
only came to us from America with a wonderful renown, but soon attached
to her triumphal car some of the most conspicuous of our local savans.
Having read much upon the subject of Mesmerism--the Od or Odyllic
force, animal magnetism, &c., I was desirous of gaining some personal
experience, and gladly accepted an invitation to see the lady referred
to, at the house of a near relative. There were many present, and before
the meeting formally began, I obtained permission to take notes in
writing of what passed. The first undertaking was that we should be told
what two of our number were doing in a dark room below stairs. I was one
of the two, and we stood with one hand upon the other's shoulder, and
the loose hands were held out horizontally. One leg of each was resting
on the tabla The lady reported us as sitting together on a sofa. Her
husband explained away the failure by saying that there was a mirror in
the room! As there was a looking-glass in every apartment in the house,
my friend and I took our position on the stairs; and on this occasion
we lay down at full length heads downwards. The clairvoyant said that we
were arm in arm talking. After this second failure, I was asked to take
the lady's hand in mine, and think deeply of some place which she would
then describe to me.

I must here pause to notice the condition referred to. My mind was to be
absorbed in what I required to be described--if I allowed my thoughts to
wander, I was told that the woman would be confused, and her performance
a failure. This involved the idea that I was not to criticise, as the
affair proceeded, but to make one thing "square" with another, if I
could. My part was carefully pointed out, but nothing came of it. I then
gave a possible clue, which was followed up, and with some surprise
I found the woman describe what I was really thinking about. But the
repetition of a phrase struck upon my ear--it was this, "I see a lot of
things going back and for'rads," and I found that I had interpreted this
as men, women, schoolboys, horses, palisades, trees, cloisters, houses,
and coaches!

After my retirement an elderly man grasped the hand, and I with pencil
took down the words the woman used, with the intention of asking certain
outsiders next day if the terms conveyed to them any distinct idea. I
found the favourite sentence referred to came so often, that I merely
left for the words a space with t. b. f., to show where the phrase
occurred. There were far more spaces in my manuscript than words. But
the old gentleman was satisfied, and so was his son who was present. It
had been agreed between them that the clairvoyant was to describe "their
house"--both were satisfied that she had; but one was thinking of the
town and the other of the country house!

During the talk, the woman, every time she uttered a sentence, said,
"Am I right?" and when told that she was wrong, she adroitly changed her
statement. Every experiment that night was a failure, and to some of us
who were sceptics our host remarked--"How is it that when you expect the
most, everything goes wrong?" To this my reply was--"When doubters
are present you scan evidence closer than when you are all believers

When once I was known as a pyrrhonist, I was invited to see everybody
who was regarded by others as extraordinarily perfect in clairvoyance;
and was astonished to find out how ignorant the believers were of the
laws of evidence.

After a time clairvoyance was replaced by spiritualism, and I was
again challenged to test the virtue of mediums. As my avocations wholly
prevented my personal attendance, I challenged certain of the faithful
to describe my library, saying that I should not be content with being
told that there were windows and a door, a fireplace and a chair, a
table and an inkstand, &c., but that I had something very peculiar in
it, the like of which I had never seen before--if this were described,
I should fancy that the spirits knew something. But I added, so long as
"spirits" only did things which conjurors, prestidigitateurs, "et
hoc genus omne," did, I should decline to believe that spirits were
corporeal, and that Grecian statesmen, Latin orators, and Sanscrit
theologians were familiar with the English language.

It must be emphatically stated that a man must not attribute everything,
of which he knows little, to a power of which he knows less. No one
can tell why an ordinary tree grows upwards, whilst a few peculiar ones
grow, after a certain period of their life, downwards; and if any one
were to declare that the first were influenced by the spirit of an
unicorn, and the second by the spirit of a cow's tail, he would be
regarded as a fool. Not much wiser would he be, who, when he heard a
knock of some kind or other, asserted or believed that it came from the
angel of night--the well-known Nox. The untutored savage, when first he
sees a watch, cannot tell how it goes--if he says that he is ignorant,
we may respect him; but if he declares that a spirit moves it, we
despise his credulity. The polite circles of civilized cities who
attribute the absurd capers of tambourines, concertinas, tables, and
the like to the vivacity of the ghosts of defunct philosophers, and
who think that it requires the shade of Venus to tell us, that feminine
women are more graceful than masculine hoydens, are not much superior to
the natural savage.

These remarks may be supplemented by the experiences imparted to me by
several personal friends; for, as it seems to me, each one has his
own way in looking at things, and has, so to speak, an idiosyncrasy in
belief and scepticism. One man, for example, inquires "How is it that
if I propound to a spiritualist, to an artist with 'planchette,' or any
other person who professes clairvoyance--a question, through a friend
who does not know the answer, I never get a correct reply; but if I
propound the same question the response is always right?" In this case
it is clear that the inquirer answers himself--not wittingly, it is
true; but, by means of a slight hesitation under certain circumstances,
he gives to the adroit professor the needful clue. How far this is
true has been repeatedly proved by those who have made the spirits say
anything--"Where is my sister?" such an one asks, and by the alphabet
and raps he hears that she is in Munich; but as the inquirer never had a
sister, the spirits have clearly been duped.

One of my friends, ordinarily a thorough sceptic, was converted to the
belief that one of his hands was positively and the other negatively
magnetic, and he showed me how he turned, by their means, a book
suspended between us upon a door key finely tied within the leaves.
But when I showed him that this was done by a movement of the body, and
could not be done if both hands employed were fixed upon anything--he
was convinced that what seemed due to one thing depended, in reality,
upon another. Yet that man was an acute and able chemical analyst.
How the late Dr Faraday convinced "table turners" that they did,
unconsciously, that which they wished, but determined not to do, will
long be remembered as a marvel of philosophical induction. We all have
not the faculty of analyzing evidence, and it would be well if those who
are deficient in that power would be less bigoted than they are. We can
scarcely expect it, however, for ignorance and arrogance usually walk
together; and no man is more convinced of his knowledge than the one
who takes it at second hand, and believes what he is told. The faithful
swallow "squid," and become a mass of blubber; the sceptics feed on
solid flesh, and are thin as tigers.


     Reconstructive. Faith and reason. Result of previous
     investigations. Value of morality. Morality and Romanism.
     Vice encouraged by priests--end in view. Submission to
     priests more valuable than virtue. Vice better than
     scepticism. Theological false witness. Compulsory faith.
     Supply without demand--in theology. Correctness of doctrine
     proved by the sword. Church and state in modern times.
     "Nerve" required to change a belief. Moral courage. What is
     faith? Absurd definition given by Paul. Faith must be
     uncompromising. Why faith signifies blind confidence. Faith
     and folly go hand in hand. Faith makes fools. Jesuits and
     faith. Popery and faith. Faith persecutes reason. All
     religious teachers uphold faith--the reason why. Quiet after
     activity. The one who partly abjures faith resembles a
     mariner at sea. Faith and reason incompatible. The author's
     personal belief: Negative--positive. Opinions on various
     received dogmas. Laws of Nature. Providence. The Book of God
     in the universe. Sin--the ideas connected with children and
     whelps. Human and animal instincts. Religious laws against
     God's. Pious murder. When crimes are praiseworthy. Human
     laws and ecclesiastical. Effect on common law of priestly
     legislation. Ecclesiastical laws generally bad ones. The
     Church makes sins; so does society. A case supposed. Society
     contravenes the laws of Nature. The proper basis of
     legislation. Personal impressions. Duty the guide of
     conduct. Conclusions.

Importance of them. Reason gives peace of mind. Fears of the orthodox.
Reason may regenerate the world; Faith does not. Another way of treating
the subject Mr Gladstone upon education. Opposes "dread of results" to
"desire of learning." Gladstone and Strauss. Various oracles. Oxford
graduates rarely philosophic. Lord Bacon's aphorisms. Science obstructed
by human weaknesses. Progress of science barred by ecclesiastics.
Religion and despotism. The man who scouts induction is a bigot.
Revelation requires exposition. Three sets of expounders--all differ.
Which must the faithful follow? Popish miracles claim credence from the
faithful. He who argues must be logical. Can a bigot be a liberal? If
learning is valuable, it must have free scope. Choice proposed--faith or
reason? Men of mark who shun religious inquiry. Faraday and Gladstone.
Influence of faith, or reason, on the clergy. Examples. An objection
noticed. Reason useless in matters of faith--its absurdity demonstrated.

It is now time to enter upon what has, throughout the composition of
the preceding essays, been constantly present to my mind, viz.,
"reconstruction." In the two larger volumes, and in this small one,
it has been my aim to clear away the foul rags which have, for many
thousand years, been heaped upon the lovely figure of truth--to
endeavour to remove the meretricious, or rubbishy, constructions that
designing men have builded round the magnificent structure of God's
universe. I have, in my own opinion, demonstrated that the Jews have
no real claim to be regarded as Jehovah's chosen people, and that their
writings present no marks of having been inspired or revealed--that,
on the contrary, there are proofs to show that a large portion of their
Scriptures are worthless fabrications, contrived by imperfectly educated
men, for a political purpose, or to foster vanity.

In our examination into the character of the Hebrew God, and of those
individuals said to be his special friends and messengers, as given
in the Bible, we found evidence to show that the historians were a
semi-civilized, sensual, and malignant race, whose ignorance was only
surpassed by their arrogance. It has been further shown, that every
portion of the Jewish Scriptures which modern Christians have adopted
into their own religion, came to the so-called "chosen people" from
those whom they, and many amongst ourselves, designate "heathen." We
have, still further, shown the almost absolute identity between the
current Christian faith and that originated by Sakya Muni, which still
reigns in Thibet, Tartary, China, Ceylon, Japan, and elsewhere. We have
demonstrated that a high grade of civilization, and a form of government
more paternal and provident than any which the old world knew, existed
in Peru, without the smallest evidence of Christianity or Mosaism having
ever existed there.

We have, in addition, shown that the miraculous conception of the Virgin
Mary is not, by any means, as great a marvel as it is generally supposed
to be, such an occurrence being as common to-day as it was from the
beginning, and as it probably ever will be. By a similar inquiry we
could readily have proved that the ascension of Jesus was not at all
unique, inasmuch as great men of old were in the habit of rising after
their decease, and making their dwelling in the heaven above--e.g.,

We have, still further, demonstrated that the modern belief in an
angelic host has nothing in it peculiar to Bible Christians and
modern Jews, and that our notion of a resurrection of the body is not
exclusively a portion of the Christian's creed, but that it was held,
in one form or another, more or less distinct, by the ancient Greeks and
Romans, and the distant Japanese. In fine, we have done much to sweep
away the major part of the religious doctrines and dogmas which are
prevalent in the Christian world.. Our writing hitherto has been
essentially iconoclastic.

But, amongst all the idols which we have attempted to throw down, we
have not, in any instance, threatened morality. We take no credit for
forbearance, but we point to the fact, inasmuch as whenever opposite
religionists contend about their tenets, they never lay violent hands
upon morality. They may abuse the practice of their opponents, and hold
up the imaginary vices of their enemy to execration, but real goodness
in the work of life is ever respected.*

     * I am, however, somewhat in doubt whether the Roman Church
     deserves the eulogy here given to other bodies. In my
     reading of history, especially in what are called the "Dark
     Ages" of Christianity, the Papal authorities winked at
     crimes against morality, so long as the sinners paid due
     deference to ecclesiastical authority, and bled freely, by
     pouring lands, treasures, and wealth of all kinds into the
     priestly treasury. The history of the Popes is written
     almost everywhere in blood. Murder, assassination, and
     spoliation were common weapons in their hands, and rape and
     robbery were condoned easily to those who were powerful and
     active slaves of the Church.

As soon as the Popes of Rome were free from persecution and danger,
they, in their turn, used the arts of the tyrants of old, and sought for
political supremacy by pandering to all the passions of kings and great
men--if, by that means, they could make them friendly. Up to within a
very short period there has not been a Christian despot, or a Pope, who
has not punished political crimes more severely than offences against

Yet, with all the fearful practices adopted by Romanists, they have ever
had in their months exhortations to propriety and personal purity--their
words have been peaceful, whilst war of the most malignant type has been
in their hearts. What they have practised, however, they have accused
their adversaries of having preached.

It may also be objected that some small sects in modern days have really
preached the doctrines of "free love," and license in sensuality; but
of these it would be unprofitable to discourse. The people who join in
promulgating such doctrines are below contempt.

When controversialists find that they have one subject upon which they
can all of them cordially unite, the philosopher would expect that
they would study to develope it, and, for that purpose, place it in the
foreground. But this is far from their practice. The ministers of every
denomination, on the contrary, place morality far behind doctrine--those
of the Protestant sect, for example, declare "good works" to be
essentially valueless without "faith," and our pulpits teem with
discourses which demonstrate the enormous superiority of a blind belief,
in doctrine and dogma, over an intelligent morality, irrespective of

In this propensity our preachers do not stand alone, for, in every
instance where history has led us to inquire into this point, we find
that submission to priestly rule has been regarded as more praiseworthy
than virtue. When Israel slew the Midianites there was no apparent
difference between the morals of the two people. Both were equally bad
or good; but such as they were, their deeds were sanctioned by different
gods; and whilst the Jews were right, their opponents were wrong. When
the Crusaders attacked the Saracens, there can be little, if any, doubt
that the worth of the latter far exceeded that of the former; but as
their faith differed, the practice was of no consequence in the eyes of
the invaders, and he who died in fighting for his country was execrated
by the robbers, who desired to steal it.

If, from a comparatively distant past, we approach nearer to our own
times, there is abundance of testimony to prove that the excellence of
the French Protestants was superior to that of the Papal priests and
their followers in the time of Louis XIV.; but this was of no avail--the
good were persecuted by the bad, because they were good only in deeds
and not in doctrine--the last being upheld by the bigots who persecuted

We may all see precisely the same phenomenon in our own day. Those who
are called Unitarians, and the vast majority of those who are designated
atheists are, in proportion to their numbers, far more moral than those
who are generically described as "Christians;" but their integrity
in every relation of life does not prevent their being abused and
persecuted, by parsons in "the establishment," by every means available
in a free country, and amongst the weapons used, the most common are
slander and false witness.

On inquiry into its origin, we find at the root of this aversion to
recognize probity as the most important item of religion, the undoubted
fact that the upright, thoughtful man requires no other person to help
him as a priest or a mediator between him and the Creator.

To possess a doctrine there must be some one to teach it, and the demand
begets a supply. But though the last aphorism is true in commerce, it
is not by any means universally so, for many an inventor of goods has
to force a supply, ere any demand for his article can arise. It is
certainly so in Ethics. The Jews made no request to Moses for a new
religion when he offered to lead them; they soon became weary of him,
and wanted to go back to Egypt. Jesus constrained his first followers
to accept a salvation of which they did not feel the need, and Mahomet
compelled, at the sword's point, his victims to accept that which they
detested. In these instances there was no want to be met, except on the
part of individuals who desired to obtain personal influence.

In religion the laws of supply and demand have only exceptional sway,
for each individual priest or minister may, according as he pleases,
elect to provide for known desires, or to inaugurate a new set of
requirements. But whether he does one or the other he is clearly an
opponent to, and frequently disliked by, any one who refuses all manner
of traffic in spiritual affairs. He is then practically in the same
condition as the English government was in when the Chinamen refused to
take the opium which they had been receiving for many years before; and,
like it, he must endeavour to enforce his wishes by war. But the parson
does not fight with cannon and gunpowder, for he assumes the power to
wield weapons of far greater importance--viz., the power to torture
after death all his adversaries. "Believe me," run his words, "and
you shall be saved from hell fire; reject my message, and you shall be
burned in everlasting flames!"

When belligerent kings go to battle, they do not go alone and fight
single-handed for their cause; on the contrary, they enlist upon their
side every man whom they can influence or compel; nor do they care,
so long as the troops obey orders, what their private thoughts are;
probably few Chinese who fought the British were not opium consumers,
and few English cared for the drug at all. In like manner, when priests
differ among themselves, they do not meet in wordy tournaments, but
they enlist on their respective sides everybody whom similarity in
superstition, interest, or any other motive induces to join their
standard. When an issue is joined, the result is governed by force of
arms, arts, or numbers, as the case maybe.

Thus, in the last resort, the correctness of a doctrine is, as we have
frequently remarked in previous pages, proved by thews and sinews--not
by brains. So long as the Pagans were numerically superior to
Christians, the latter were heretics and victims; but when the disciples
of Jesus were actually the strongest, they became suddenly "the
orthodox," and the poor Pagans "the damned." In later times
Protestantism asserted its faith by the prowess of Cromwell's
"ironsides" in England and Ireland; in like manner the Covenanters of
Scotland proved, by the might of their swords, Presbyterianism to be
superior to Episcopal government. By dint of Saxon might, Ireland was
long politically at one with Great Britain; now by her numbers she is
allied to the Vatican.

The well-read politician will see that a contest similar to those thus
indicated is going on almost all over Europe. In Great Britain and
Ireland, in France, Prussia, Austria, and Italy--even in the once
bigoted Spain, priestly parties are striving for supremacy over the
party of rational order and philosophical government. The question at
issue is by no means doubtful--it is one which has been agitated for
thousands of years, but that has never assumed large proportions in
consequence of general ignorance and consequent apathy. In England,
France, and Germany, innumerable champions on the one side have risen,
fought, and died, overpowered by the numbers-ranged against them; but,
as persecution is said to be the seed of orthodoxy, so these men and
their writings have, by dissemination through the press, and the effect
of increased education in the languages of Europe, gradually raised so
large a party, as to be able to contend with some chances of success.

It will be seen that the question to which I refer is this--"Shall men
and states be governed by faith?" in other words, "by the hierarchy of
the most numerous section of the community--or by reason--i.e., by the
good sense of the majority?" In Austria and in Italy this issue has
clearly been tried, and in both instances the priesthood has been
obliged to accept a secondary position. In Prussia the same momentous
point is being tried with every chance of the sacerdotal party being
worsted. In the British kingdom religion has long been regarded as
subordinate to state policy; nevertheless there is yet a strong party
who desires to reduce her inhabitants to clerical bondage. If all the
individuals composing this section of the community were united, they
would prevail by their numbers; but, as the aggressive army is composed
of troops who bear an almost deadly hate against each other, small
danger is to be anticipated from them. The Ritualist and Roman Catholic
might unite together; but these would not stand shoulder to shoulder
with the Wesleyan, Baptist, and Low Churchman. Although all equally
detest those who say "parsons are not wanted," sects will not ally
themselves, lest, if every one were to be compelled to select a form of
faith, the compulsory decree might augment the numbers following some

We have thus placed before our readers what we believe is the first
article which has to be considered in Reconstruction. We have to ask
ourselves whether we should enlist ourselves under the banner of faith,
and endeavour to add one form of religion to those already existing;
or, whether we should join the banner of reason, and repudiate all
doctrines, dogmas, credences, and the like, which are offensive to
common sense. We may fairly parody the words of the mythical Elisha, and
say to ourselves--"Choose ye this day whom ye will serve; if faith suits
your indolence, then hug your chains; if you prefer reason, gird up the
loins of your mind, and metaphorically kill the priests of Rite."

Ere, however, we can reasonably expect those who have hitherto been
inconsiderate to make their selection of standard bearers, it is
desirable to say something of the two. _In limine_ we must observe that
we do not believe that the choice will be determined by the head
alone, for there are many whose arms are, so to speak, paralyzed by
a constitutional peculiarity. A hero in his study has often proved a
poltroon in the field of battle. I may point the moral by quoting from
memory a story in Addison's _Spectator_--"A B is a hen-pecked husband;
he knows it, and bewails his thraldom; he consults C D, who sympathises
with his case, increases his detestation for the home tyranny, and tells
him how to break the chains. A B, full of resolution, tries the plan
recommended, but breaks down at once." The moral is, that those who are
born to serve, or are too weak-minded to assert their independence, had
better submit to be ruled--even if the tyrant be a woman, than try to
gain peace by conflict. Into this story I fully enter, for I know, from
experience, how much "nerve" is required for any one to change his or
her relative position. The moral courage of which I speak, is one that
dominates over constitutional shyness and fear; it differs from the
boldness of a soldier, and the dash of the beast of prey; it is not a
simple mental assent; but it is a motive which, after being once placed,
becomes a mainspring of life. To adopt Faith as a guide, is to go
through life easily--so long as "thought" can be sent to sleep. To adopt
Reason, is to prevent thought ever slumbering, and to live the happier
the more steadily that the mind is watchful In few words, Faith is "a
quack doctor," Reason "a physician." The first will always have the most

Without further preface, let us inquire "what Faith really is?" This is
a question with which I have been familiar since my childhood, and the
answer offered to me for adoption was--"It is the substance of things
hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. xi. 1). This reply
has never suggested any distinct idea to me, and I am confident that the
author of "Hebrews" had not a definite meaning in his own mind when he
wrote the words. The context shows that the word [--Greek--] is used
to signify distinct states of mind, and one example, which is given
frequently, indicates a different signification from another that
precedes or follows. For example, in v. 5 we are told that Enoch was
translated by "faith;" but the only evidence for this is, that "he
pleased God;" whereas, in verse 11, we are told that Sarah, who laughed
at the idea of having offspring, and disbelieved the promise which said
that she should have a son, conceived "through faith." Still further,
the false history of the chapter disgusted me--e.g., we read in w. 24,
25, 27, that Moses by faith elected to bear affliction with the people
of God, and from the same cause forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of
the king, &c.--both of which statements are untrue, for he ran away both
from the afflictions of the Hebrews and the wrath of the monarch, and
required "pressing" before he would leave his retreat in Midian. I
regard the chapter thus referred to as one of the great stumbling blocks
of Christianity. Its logic is contemptible; yet it must pass for truth,
because Paul is thought to have written it. Being now thrown back
upon our own resources for a definition of "faith," we affirm that it
signifies "_uncompromising_ belief in what one is told." Every religious
book which occupies itself with this subject illustrates the word in
question by affirming that it resembles the motive which actuates a
child who, at a father's bidding; leaps from a height upon the promise
that papa will catch him in his arms.

Though, as a rule, I am disinclined to use adjectives, I have added the
word in italics, because it is a material part of the definition, and
involves more than at first sight appears. Peter tried to walk upon the
water--he doubted, and began to sink. He has been imitated by others;
they have all failed. "Doctor," a man may say, "can I swallow this
without being choked?" "Yes, if you think you can." He tries to swallow
the morsel, and is choked. The result in every case is attributed to a
want of faith. In other words, hesitation cannot effect what confidence
can. Consequently we are justified in asserting that faith and doubt
are absolutely incompatible. Faith implies an absolute and perfect
confidence. This faith may be compulsory--as when a shipmaster is
obliged by local law to give up the management of his ship to a pilot;
or it may be spontaneous, as when a patient trusts himself to a surgeon.
For a man only to give a half confidence, is to cripple to that extent
the capacity of the one who is responsible.

Religious faith, then, involves the necessity of an absolute and blind
confidence in the priestly pilot selected as a conductor through life
to eternity; it precludes inquiry, discourages thought upon the most
important matter which every man has to consider, and makes of a
rational being an intellectual slave. In few words, it reduces its
votary to the position of a tool, and renders him, so far as religion is
concerned, mentally blind.

We recognize the accuracy of our deductions when we find that the aim of
the Roman church has been to reduce men to the condition here described,
and then to use them as carpenters do planes, chisels, and axes. It is
probable that there never existed in the world an order of men who have
so completely reduced themselves, and voluntarily too, it must be borne
in mind, to the position of a machine, as the Jesuits have done. They
are an instrument in the hands of their superiors, and they blindly
obey. Whether the order exists for good or harm, it is not my purpose to

Next in order to the society of Jesus comes the gigantic society known
as the Papacy, or Roman Catholicism. I place this as second to Jesuitry,
because, for a long period, there was a certain freedom of opinion
allowed to the superior clergy. But now, when it has become a tenet
of the church of Rome, that its head is absolutely infallible in all
matters of dogma and doctrine, it is probable that the demand of faith
from the laity may equal, if not exceed, that made upon professed

In religion, the only place in which uncompromising faith finds
its home, is the Papal. That demands unlimited belief in everything
ecclesiastically promulgated, hatred of everything dogmatically
condemned, and acquiescence in every sacerdotal command. Amongst that
sect, doubting is an offence, and opposition is a crime.

We have seen this illustrated in the person of the learned Bishop
Döllinger, who has been excommunicated simply because he refused to
accept the new fangled notions of an almost effete old pope. He cannot
see anything in a modern council to supersede apostolic traditions; he
doubts; therefore the Papalists do everything in their power to damn
him. In like manner, although prior in time to the declaration of
the Pope's infallibility, we have seen the present king of Italy
excommunicated; because he, as the head of his own dominions, ordered
a decree to be carried into effect which, whilst it was good for the
people generally, was regarded as hostile to the church.

The observer need not, however, go far from home in search of
illustrations, for every year sees one or another Protestant minister
leaving the Anglican for the Roman communion, on the sole ground that
in the latter there is no room for doctrinal doubts and contests. To the
laity, the very repose of the religious mind is held out as a bait by
Papal missionaries, and it is probably one of the most successful which
"the fishers of men" employ. I once heard a brother physician express
his opinion on this point. Conversation had turned upon a confrère who
had been in religious matters "everything by turns, and nothing long."
"Ah," said the Romanist, "he'll be tired of roaming some day, and find
repose at last in the bosom of the church; his soul will then be at
rest, and will wander no more."

The possibility of Protestants entertaining a doubt upon the power of
"the Church" to demand unlimited belief and obedience from the faithful,
is a sore thorn in the side of many dignitaries of the national creed.
As this propensity to inquiry is an essential part of the legacy
bequeathed to Englishmen by the reformation, this last movement has been
execrated by some of our High Churchmen. It is asserted, that, as the
taking of the Bible for the sole rule of faith has been followed by
a great splitting up of the so-called "Church of Christ," so it is
advisable to change the standard, and to adopt that of "Ecclesiastics"
personally or collectively. In any case, such advocates desire to
re-establish the reign of faith. What the Reign of Faith has been in
Europe, it would be idle to describe.

As soon as the mind of an individual revolts from giving implicit faith
to any creed, doctrine, or dogma, he must be regarded as a mariner who,
being not quite contented with his own country, endeavours to find a
better. In his voyage he first leaves the shore as a fledgling does the
nest--he goes a short excursion, and returns; after a time he becomes
more brave, and puts off more boldly. At first he probably finds
a number of other barques as venturous as his own, and he becomes
emboldened; it may be his arms are strong, his head clear, and his boat
good; and he steers into the offing. No sooner does he leave the herd,
however, than he is chased, and if he refuses to put back, curses follow
him; and the friends whom once he had are condoled with. Such is the
position of a Protestant who departs seriously from the religion of the
majority. With or amongst the Romanists to leave the shore is an act of
disbelief which must be atoned for by penance or punishment.

It is clear that every such individual who, like a chick, leaves the
shelter of the maternal wings, must be more or less at sea. He or she
may have no idea of going very far, yet may be compelled to sail on
until he has reached the other side of Doubting Straits, and has landed
in the realm of Reason. We can well conceive the waters to be covered
by small "craft," which keep together for company's sake, or who boldly
sail out and solicit followers--some cluster, it may be, round a stately
galleon, others sail with a dashing cruiser, some come into collision
or hostile contact with their neighbours, and try to damage each others'
barques. But all are at sea--driven hither and thither by breezes which
spring up, no one knows how, and drop down again as swiftly as they
rose. The mariners, however, seem to enjoy the excitement, and refuse to
return to their own land.

The individuals whom we here describe are the ordinary Protestant sects
(not including the Unitarians, who have long reached a comparatively
stable ground). These, by whatever name they are called, refuse to give
implicit faith to the Pope; they will, however, accord, in some degree,
to some pet parson, the management of their conscience; they dread what
is called "free-thinking," as a mariner does a lee shore. They put up
with every accident which arises from mingling faith with reason, and
are, on the whole, contented, as long as too much pressure is not put
upon them, to steer in a definite direction. Of these it may be said,
"Thou art neither cold nor hot; I would thou wert cold or hot. So then,
because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee
out. of my mouth" (Rev. iii. 15,16). The endeavour to make reason
subservient to faith, must ever be a failure as complete as would be
the endeavour to weld iron with water, or to heat an anchor shaft by
surrounding it with cold coals and wood, then blowing a blast of air
upon the whole. He who is determined to use reason, must drop faith; and
he who clings to faith, must drop reason. The conclusions drawn by all
who attempt the combination will always be lame and impotent.

If, in the stead of faith, an individual takes reason for his guide
through this world to the next, he incurs the wrath and malignancy of
the many, and the respect of the few. He comes in for far harder names
than Pagans gave to Christians, and Papalists gave to Huguenots. If,
unfortunately, he should live in a country where priests rule, he may be
burned, as Savonarola was at Florence, Latimer and Ridley at Oxford, and
Servetus at Geneva. Luther was said to be a devil--a so-called Atheist
is believed to be something worse.

Yet, notwithstanding all the obloquy thrown upon Freethinkers by the
orthodox, they steadily have increased in numbers, ever since the spread
of education and the cheapness of books have enabled men to study in
retirement When there was little instruction and few books, people
gained what knowledge they had from their spiritual guides. This power
of the pulpit enabled the hierarchy to set up and substantiate any
claims which they chose. But, since the power of the printing press has
risen, the influence of the priesthood has diminished. With all this
tendency to so-called Atheism, there has been no loss of propriety; on
the contrary, the probity of the few exceeds that of the many, and in
all there is a great improvement. The present times in Italy are far
superior to those when the Borgias and their religion were supreme.

When we inquire what the Freethinkers, or Rationalists, are, it is
readily seen that they have been maligned by "the faithful." There is
little difficulty in summing up their tenets: it is "Reverence, without
servility." They draw their views from the book of creation, and hold it
infamous to fight for supremacy where facts and logic can decide. This,
however, is by far too meagre to satisfy either a friend, an inquirer,
or an opponent; it is, therefore, desirable to go into the matter more
fully. In doing so, I make no pretence to be the mouthpiece of a party,
nor even to give a digested account of what those who have written and
published before me have enunciated; my sole aim is to give, in as plain
terms as I can command, the opinions which inquiry has forced upon my

My first confession of faith must be negative, for, until the ground has
been cleared, it is not advisable either to plant or construct:

1. I do not believe in the authority of any written book as being an
inspired production, or as containing a revelation from God to man. In
my estimation, the Bible is not in any way superior to the Koran, to
the Dhammapada, the Puranas, the Main-yo-Khard, the Avesta, or any other
collection of scriptures held sacred.

2. I do not believe the story given in Genesis of the creation, of
the formation of human beings, and what is ordinarily called "the
temptation" and "the fall".

3. I do not believe in the existence of what is technically designated
"original sin," nor that the human race is "a fallen one;" consequently,
I do not believe in the necessity for "salvation." I do not believe that
death came into the world by sin.

4 I do not believe in the existence of "sin," in the ordinary
acceptation of the word; nor do I believe that man requires the
intervention of any fellow mortal, either to reconcile or embroil him
with an unseen power.

5. I do not believe in the existence of a Devil, or of any other power
in the whole universe, than that of the Supreme Maker of all.

6. I do not believe in any description which has yet been given of Hell
or Heaven.

7. I do not believe that God has ever directly spoken to man.

8. I do not believe that God has ever become incarnate, or that he has a
celestial spouse, or a son.

9. I do not believe in the existence of truth-speaking prophets, in the
existence of angels, or ghosts, or in the supernatural birth of any one.

10. I do not believe that God has now, or ever has had, a separate and
chosen people, peculiarly "His own," and, consequently, that there are
none to whom the term "the elect" can apply.

11. I do not believe that what is generally designated religion is
necessary to the existence of law and order in a state or in a family.

12. I do not believe that God requires the assistance of man, here
or elsewhere, to enable Him to find, or to keep, or to punish, His

These negatives might be multiplied, but I doubt whether profitably so,
inasmuch as the more we dilute important points, the less readily are
they recognized. We may now proceed to affirmations:--

1. I do believe in the existence of a distinct Power in creation--great
beyond conception, which pervades all space--which is everywhere present
in the earth, the sea, the air, and in every conceivable part of the
Universe--which made all things, and gave to them properties, powers,
and laws. A power to which it were blasphemy to assign ears, eyes,
hands, or human parts, and an evidence of a grovelling mind to suppose
it capable of human passions, such as love, hate, jealousy, and
merriment, and to describe it as ignorant, vacillating, and grieved at
its own work. That Power I cannot conceive as having either an origin or
an end. Into the designs of such a power, man cannot enter, nor can he
even seem to approach them, except by noticing the works of creation,
and studying the laws which apparently govern it By the term, "laws of
nature," I understand "the laws of the power of which I speak." I cannot
conceive how man can form an idea of a state of spiritual existence of
which he can neither see, observe, or notice anything.

It is, in my opinion, unnecessary here to enter into the vexed question
of the continued interference of this Power with its works, for where we
have only human analogies to guide us, it is undesirable to argue
upon them in the attempt to discover the superhuman. As we shall have
occasion shortly to indicate our views upon a matter analogous to this,
we will postpone anything which we may have to say.

I believe that the Power has never made, nor can ever make, a mistake;
that all its works are perfect, and that where they seem to us to be
otherwise, it is from our ignorance of their design.

It seems to me that lions and lambs, sharks and gudgeons, that hawks and
chickens, form a portion of a grand scheme: that the distinct classes
of animals were originally perfect; that they may deteriorate, yet never
advance beyond perfection. I do not believe that a lion could become,
under any circumstances, a bull; a bear a camel, or a pig an elephant.

2. The belief that the Creator made each creature originally perfect,
and with certain well defined propensities, involves the further
confidence that the indulgence in those propensities is a necessary part
of the scheme of creation; consequently, I believe that the tiger eats
flesh because it is a law of his existence, and that in doing so he
commits no sin. I believe, still further, that a close observation of
nature gives us some apparent insight into the plan of creation For
example, I think the existence of gills in a fish leads us fairly to the
conclusion that it was intended to live in the water; that the existence
of teeth implies that they were to be used in eating, wings in flying,
legs in walking. Still further, when we notice that vegetables can
assimilate mineral matter, which animals, as a rule, cannot, I believe
that the vegetable kingdom has its special place in the world; and when,
moreover, we find creatures who can eat and digest vegetables, and have
a special apparatus for the purpose, it is fair to conclude that they
too have their station assigned. A corresponding remark applies to the
carnivora. Once again,--when an extended observation shows us that the
beasts and birds of prey select for their victims the young of animals
which their parents are unable to protect, the aged, who are too infirm
to fight for themselves, or the sickly, which are quite unfit to live:
when, moreover, we find these carnivorous creatures die when age or
accident deprives them of the power of getting food; nay, when we see
large numbers of all animals die from want of food, of air, of warmth,
or from accidents--I believe that we are justified in deducing the idea
that it is a design of the Power, that those which cannot live shall
die; I believe that death is as essential a necessity to every creature
as is its birth, and that its many forms have a definite purpose.

Let us now, for a moment, turn our attention to the very commencement
of life. If from any cause the new being is seriously malformed or
diseased, it is a common thing for the dam to miscarry. If a mother, say
a pig, rat, or bird, brings forth a larger brood than she can nourish,
she commonly kills the smallest, and allows only those to survive which
she can find food for--the bird that lays more eggs than her nest will
hold, turns the overplus out; and if, when the fledglings grow up, they
are too bulky, one of them will be discarded. The cuckoo's chick has a
special provision made for helping it to turn out the young of another
bird, and its mother has also a special instinct to lay its eggs in the
nest of the hedge-sparrow. The life of one involves the death of three
or more. Again, in the aquatic world, one fish makes no scruple to feed
on its own young ones or those of its neighbours, and the old crocodile
seeks out its offspring as a favourite luxury. We find, moreover,
that where these creatures abound there may often be found a small
animal--the ichneumon--whose instinct teaches it to seek for and destroy
the eggs of the saurian. In like manner crows, rats, cuckoos, and
probably many other creatures, have a propensity to feed upon the eggs
of various birds. In few words, we recognize throughout creation an
apparent design to prevent a superabundance of life.

This remarkable provision, working, as it does, through laws which seem
to be fixed and established, prevents our belief in the interference of
the Creator. When an animal has reached the period of nearly adult age,
there is in many instances a considerable amount of instruction given
to it, sometimes by the sire, but mostly by the dam. When that has been
imparted, parents and offspring seem to be like strangers to each other.

It is probable that, if we could observe all animals, we should find
some system of training of the family. As it is, we can only speak of
domestic fowls, and notice the order which the hen keeps up amongst her
brood of chickens; they are taught to live peaceably. Her punishments
are never lenient; they are, indeed, necessarily severe.

We may next proceed to inquire into the animal instincts which exist
in adult life, at a period when every creature is supposed to be in its
perfection. At a certain time of the year there is a propensity for
the male and female to unite. There is not anything in creation which
affords a more attractive study than this, for every class of creatures
has a practice peculiar to itself. One might fancy that in an act so
necessary and so simple there would be little cause for interest; yet,
in reality, "the prodigality of design"--a term which we hope to explain
fully hereafter--is more largely shown in this process than in any
other. It is, however, a subject upon which one cannot descant before
the general public.

So far as we are able to observe animals, we find that at this period
there is, amongst a great number of classes, a power amongst the males
to discover the most perfect amongst the females, and to fight for them.
By this means the young are certain to be the offspring of perfection of
grace and beauty in the dam, and strength and size in the sire. We can
readily understand that, if the loveliest hind were to pair with the
weakliest stag, the breed would degenerate, and probably die out. But
the conqueror can hold his place only so long as he has vigour; when age
has weakened him, the youthful successor practically prevents the old
buck from being a father. In some exceptional cases (apparently so at
least) the number of males exceeds that of the females, and, as a result
of the instinct before alluded to, the fight ends in the majority of the
males being destroyed. The survivor then has one spouse only, and not a
seraglio. This is said to obtain amongst rats and lions.

As yet, there is not a sufficient amount of observation available to
enable us to affirm what is the general cause of exit from life, when
no death by violence occurs. We do not know the end of old buffaloes,
elephants, rhinoceroses, hippopotami, whales, and other monsters. Tales
are told of decrepit lions being occasionally seen tottering to their
fall; and gossip says that ancient cats know when they are about to die,
and retire to some secluded nook, where they give up the ghost quietly.
I cannot charge my memory with a single anecdote in which the youthful
animal endeavours to sustain the old one, by feeding it during its
decrepitude. Throughout creation parental affection signifies solicitude
for offspring. We do not anywhere discover a love towards a parent after
the younger creature has reached adult age.

In all the cases to which I have referred, and, were I a naturalist,
they might be greatly multiplied, there is no pretence, even amongst
the orthodox, that any of the creatures have committed "sin" against
the Almighty, or against the community of which they form a part. On the
contrary, what is done, even though it amounts to murder, is regarded
as a necessity; and we admire the laws of nature which bring about such
results. We do not stop to inquire whether any contrivance would prevent
birds from laying too many eggs, and cuckoos from dropping theirs into
the nests of other birds; we content ourselves with saying, "such is the
will of Providence." It is easy to come to such a conclusion as regards
what we are pleased to call "the lower animals," but as soon as we
inquire "whether similar laws or instincts are implanted in us," we are
generally met with a howl of repugnance.

But I believe that we shall never understand our true position in life
and in nature until we deliberately investigate that which we have
in common with other animals, and wherein we are different--probably
superior. I use the word _probably_, because, in the estimation of
higher beings than ourselves--if such there be--the horse and the
elephant may be regarded as being far above us in the scale which those
beings have framed for themselves.

I have never yet seen any deliberate attempt to work out the problem
referred to. Every one, or nearly so, who if orthodox, assumes that it
is absolutely wicked to compare the beasts which perish, to man who has
a soul As I have, in a previous volume, shown that the evidence for the
immortality of the horse is equal to that for the human race, I will not
stay to point out the absurdity of building an important argument upon a
baseless assumption, but simply express my belief that man has very much
in common with other mammals; but that he is in possession of something
superadded, which, at first sight--though not in reality--takes him
out of the trammels of the ordinary laws of nature that operate in the

No one can doubt that man has as strong a propensity to unite with
woman, as bulls and stags have with the females of their kind. He has,
even in civilized societies, a propensity to fight with one or more of
his fellows for a female of surpassing beauty. Men will combat about
a disputed field or country as fiercely as dogs over a bone, or hermit
crabs over a shell. As a rule, man detests to be taught, quite as much
as does the whelp; yet, when he has gained an art, he is as proud of it
as a highly trained spaniel. Men are gregarious as horses in a field,
and quite as intolerant as they, of an interloper. Like the wild wolves,
men will unite together to capture and prey upon creatures of each
of whom individually he stands in fear. Like a set of wild bulls or
buffaloes, men will, for a time, agree to obey a leader, and, when the
object is gained, break loose. Like a cat, man will steal, when he can,
his neighbours' goods, like a crow, he will pay no attention to his
parents, nor to a Sunday.

Without entering into farther particulars, we may affirm that some
highly trained elephants, dogs, and horses, are superior to many human
beings in every point upon which an impartial judge can determine.

It is my belief that, for a man to obey an instinct which is implanted
in his nature, is not "a sin" against God.

To see this in a fair light, let us assume, as we have a right to do,
that it is an instinct in the nature of all known creatures, to
increase and multiply their like. To avoid doing so intentionally, is a
contravention of one of the Creator's laws. If this be so, then celibacy
is a sin, as great, indeed, as if one were to refrain from food of all
kinds; and no one can be considered as worthy of the name of good,
who remains unpaired without just cause. In like manner, it is not an
offence against the laws of God for any man and woman to unite, for it
is as much a law of nature that they shall do so, as that they must eat
and drink. The plea of "religion" cannot make that wrong, which is by
nature right.

In like manner, if in a limited community--say upon an island, the
number of men exceeds that of the women, I believe that a fight amongst
the males for the possession of mates, would not be "sin" against the
Omnipotent even though many combatants died during the contest.

Nay, so common upon many points is the agreement; amongst even the most
orthodox, that none would say that a man commits a crime when he steals
the store of honey laid up by bees, kills animals for food or for their
fur, or covets and appropriates the prairies hitherto occupied by herds
of deer and bison. Even the commandments said to be delivered by
God Himself are held not to be literally binding upon man, except in
relation to his friends. He may, for example, by the laws of war, murder
his enemies, fornicate with their wives, steal their property, and
deceive them in every way. Abraham, the so-called friend of God,
murdered many Orientals, and plundered them; not because he had any
quarrel with them, but simply because they had murdered and plundered
some of his friends. David again, a man after God's own heart, with his
dying breath, gave his son instructions to put individuals to death in
cold blood, superseding the law of Sinai, by a heritage of hate. When,
therefore, common consent takes certain actions out of the list of
crimes or sins, provided that the deeds are done against enemies, we
have to seek for the origin of those ideas which make murder, theft,
robbery, rape, and false-witness crimes in the abstract.

To understand this point, we have really to start from the bestial
basis, and aver that what is not sin in them, is not sin in savage man.
No one of any intelligence would say that a Briton would be justified in
shooting an Ashantee because the latter had killed and eaten an enemy,
or an aged parent; nor would any one of us sentence a Hindoo to death
because he had killed a dozen Thugs. Even in comparatively civilized
American backwoods, a person who has killed a bully has been thought
a public benefactor. Again, when we cast our eyes upon Australia, and
learn the brutal way in which the black native virgins are violently
carried away from their relatives and married, and how again they
are repeatedly carried off as wives by other men, we feel ourselves
justified in leaving the ravishers without punishment, for there is
no violation of law, or, if there be, Englishmen have no right to

But what we tolerate in uncivilized lands, even where we are ostensibly
rulers, we will not suffer in our own. The reason of this is, that we
have banded ourselves into a society in which "the laws," once settled
and determined by the majority, supersede, in certain cases, individual

To make our meaning clear, let us imagine that amongst some nation or
people there is one man more astute and powerful than his fellows;
still further, we assume that he has fought, or is desirous to fight, a
neighbour of nearly equal force. It is clear that if his people murder
each other from any cause he will lose warriors; consequently, he will
let his tribe understand that he will punish homicide, on a plan which
he thinks will be deterrent. Still further, as he requires soldiers of
strong limbs and sturdy constitution, he declares that no woman shall
many without his consent, so that he may prevent any one selling
herself, or being sold, to a weak or old man for mere pelf. As, in a
savage state, most possessions are those which are useful in war, he
would prohibit theft. As a consequence, he, and all who respected his
power to punish, would regard murder, theft, rape, and unauthorized
wife-selling as crimes--offences, that is to say, against the ruler of
the state, and not against the Creator of mankind.

It signifies little to my argument, whether society is governed, as the
early Aryans were, by warriors, or, as the later ones were, by Brahmans.
In either case the leaders make laws, and declare a violation of them to
be punishable.

When communities are small in size, and extend over a small area, few
rules of life are necessary; but when a nation increases in size,
and especially when it consiste of many tribes or class which have
voluntarily united together, legislation is far more complicated,
inasmuch as the ideas of right and wrong in each section may, from long
custom, vary from each other. For example, in most of the United States
of America bigamy, or the possession of two wives at a time, is a crime;
whereas, in Salt Lake city, its rulers have twenty, and its men a dozen,
if they like, and yet are esteemed saints, and really conduct themselves
as if they had a clear claim to the title.

The greatest complication is when the laws of a community have been
framed, partly by soldiers, partly by ecclesiastics, and partly by
mercantile men, for each party has a different creed. The first makes
no scruple to fight at the command of the second, whilst the third
endeavours to prevent all war whatever. The second set intrigue to have
the supreme power; the first and third often endeavour to suppress the
second, knowing its aggressiveness and lust of supremacy.

When a nation is under what is grandiloquently called a Theocracy, every
offence against a command given _ex cathedra_ is regarded as a sin; not
simply a disregard of the law, but a defiance of the God who is said to
have ordained it. Thus, according to what is known as the Mosaic law,
it was a crime punishable by a lingering death to gather sticks on a
Sabbath day (Num. xv. 32-36); but it was no crime to kill all the
males and women of a whole nation, and retain the maidens for private
prostitution and for the use of the priest (Num. xxxi. 17, 18, 40,
41). In such a nation it was no crime to commit forgery--and of all the
bearers of false witness, none exceeded in ancient times the Jewish
writers in the Bible--but in mercantile England, the former has been at
one time punished with death, and the latter by ignominious penalties.

In modern Theocracies, such as once existed in Austria, Spain, Italy,
England, and elsewhere, it was considered criminal to think differently,
upon any religious point, from the authorized standard. In those
kingdoms many a person was doomed to die a painful death, and thereafter
sent--as it was supposed, to Hell--whom we now regard as a virtuous,
brave, and noble individual.

The common sense of mankind induces all citizens to buy what they have
need of, at the smallest possible price; but a mercantile government
says to its people--"You shall not buy anything from anybody who has not
first paid us for the privilege of trading, and something more for every
ware which he offers for sale, and every one contravening this order
shall be seriously punished." Here, again, an artificial offence is
manufactured that has no origin in nature.

When a people has succeeded in throwing off publicly the trammels of
Ecclesiastical legislation, as England, Italy, Spain, France, Austria,
Belgium, and other nations have done, they by no means shake off their
private shackles. The only difference between Spain, Austria, and other
places, now and formerly, is, that the priesthood are seeking to attain
by subtlety what they could previously command by their state power. At
one period in the history of modern Rome, it was a crime not to kneel
on the bare ground when certain priests passed with a bit of wafer
surrounded by gorgeous trappings. This is a crime no longer against the
state, but for all who believe the Papal hierarchy it is yet a sin.

At one time in England, it was a crime not to go to church on Sunday;
it was equally punishable to carry on any business. The laws respecting
these matters have not yet been repealed, and they have been put
recently into operation, although the good sense of the majority has
made them practically obsolete. Yet, though this is the case, and the
law no longer punishes Sabbath-breaking, the priestly body continue to
launch their thunders against all who regard every day alike. It is,
indeed, doubtful if, in the eyes of our parsons, there is any sin so
great as enjoying one's self on a Sunday. The law of our country does
not make it a crime for a woman to prostitute her body, or for a man
to have a concubine of greater or less permanency, but the hierarchs
denounce the arrangement as criminal in the sight of God.

We need not multiply our illustrations farther. Sufficient has been
advanced to show that there are two distinct classes of sins--one, those
made by Ecclesiastics, or by those legislators passing under the name
"Society;" the other, those which are against the laws of nature--e.g.,
an enforced celibacy, such as that to which Romish priests are doomed.
In saying this, we readily allow that what is right, according to the
laws of God, as set forth in the universe, is wrong according to the
code made by the legally constituted authorities of the state in which
an individual lives. We grant, moreover, that, if a government is strong
enough, the laws of man should be enforced by human means. But we do not
believe that mortals should be compelled to carry out that which priests
tell them is the justice of the Immortal, of which they know absolutely
nothing. I hold that no state can fairly claim to take cognizance of, or
to punish, thoughts, or any private indulgence which creates no public

If we endeavour to reduce our views to a still clearer issue, the
difference between divine and human laws will be the more readily
understood. Let us assume that Miss Kallistee is the most perfect
woman in a district. For her contend with their natural weapons Messrs.
Dunamis, Kratos, Kalos, Sophos, and Mathesis; and the conqueror, having
killed his adversaries, takes the lady to wife. The law of man or of
society now steps in and kills off the survivor; or, if it should know
beforehand of the coming contest, will prevent it. As a consequence,
the lady must be contended for peaceably, and may become the bride of
impotent old age or wealthy disease. As a result, the healthy offspring,
which nature would have reared, are either absent, sickly, diseased,
or idiotic. Here, then, I affirm that a law of society is a sin against

I would wish my readers to ponder over this matter, which gives much
food for thought. I do not think that such contests as I have described
can be tolerated in any society of civilized beings, for, in proportion
to our emergence from barbarism, we do not seek mere strength and beauty
of form in our population. We desire to cultivate the intellectual
rather than the animal in man. But experience has shown that, as a rule,
the further man departs from the latter, and the nearer he approaches to
the former, the more does his progeny deteriorate physically.

It is a problem whether, by any available contrivance short of that
which was adopted by the Incas of Peru, man can uniformly develope
upwards. The physiologist can readily see how the matter might be
effected, but in republican or constitutional kingdoms, the means will
never be adopted.

We have now come to a point when it is necessary for me, as an
individual, to express an opinion as to the selection which a
philosopher, living in a comparatively civilized community, should make
between a promulgation of the so-called laws of God--an instruction
respecting the laws of nature--or an utterance of the laws of society,
with the enforcement of them. Ere forming a decision, let us endeavour
to ascertain what each alternative involves.

If a state, acting through its executive government, decides to make
what are called the laws of God the basis of legislation, it must first
decide what those laws are. In the endeavour to do so, every thoughtful
man will recognize the impossibility of verifying a single one. The
whole must, therefore, be promulgated on assumption; and if so, the
legislators will be conscious that they have no valid authority. If, on
the other hand, they assume the laws of nature to be a safe guide, they
must allow proceedings which are opposed to the feelings of the majority
of civilized mortals. Being, then, averse to elect either of these codes
as a sole basis, the statesman will endeavour, as far as in him lies, to
make or adapt laws for the society in which he lives.

When the well-being of the community becomes the basis of its
legislation, the idea of sin vanishes from the statute book, and the
stern realities of life have to be envisaged with firmness and decision.
So also when religion has merged into common sense, and facts are
appealed to rather than fancies, policy takes the place of dogma, and
the voice of a majority overcomes that of any priesthood.

Into political economy, however, it is not my desire to enter, further
than may be necessary to illustrate my own opinions upon religion.

Having emancipated myself from the thraldom of bibliolatry and
priestcraft generally, it is my aim to examine what seems to be my duty
as a man and an integer of society. I conceive that, although I have
no certain knowledge thereof, I am one of the myriads of instruments
by which the Almighty works out His designs. My appreciation may be
imperfect, but still it seems to me a duty, always to be a good husband,
father, friend, and citizen--to act ever towards others as I should
desire myself to be treated under the same circumstances--to improve
such talents as I am conscious of possessing; and, in a general way, to
do as much good as I can during my lifetime--taking care, if possible,
to leave after my death no mischievous agency set on foot by me. In
few words, I believe that the only true religion consists in a constant
steady performance of duty--a duty discovered and determined by the
individual, and not one prescribed by any set of men.

The conclusion thus arrived at, appears at first sight, to be meagre
in the extreme, but when it is fully examined, it is found to involve
important consequences. The faithful, for example, or, as they style
themselves, "the orthodox," live, when they pay any attention to such
matters, in a state of perpetual fear of God and eternity; some, indeed
we may say many, go mad from the oppression which they feel from having
committed an unpardonable sin; some pass through life weighted by the
dread of not being finally "saved"; all, with rare exceptions, have a
horror of death and of the results of "the judgment." Feeling assured
that few will be saved, and the many will be damned, they have a
dreadful feeling of certainty that either they or some of their dearest
relatives or friends will be amongst the majority. Some go through life
sinning and repenting--"in dust and ashes," as the technical phrase
runs--until they are ashamed of their own vacillation, or go on sinning,
without any qualms of conscience, until it is too late to mend; and
they recognize before them "a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery
indignation." These fantastic terrors are far more deeply rooted in the
Protestants than in the Papists, who have so completely become imbued
with the belief that their priests have almost unlimited power in the
unseen world, that the dying folk become easy in their minds, by a
full assurance of hope that friends, hierarchs, and "masses" will make
purgatory bearable and heaven certain. Of fear about eternity I know
nothing; feeling confident that the God who made me--directly or
indirectly it would be a waste of time to discuss--had some work for
me to do here. I am quite content with whatever may be assigned to me
hereafter by the same Power. Of a future state I am wholly ignorant.
As an integer, I feel a sort of instinct that death is not absolute
annihilation; but beyond that I do not now seek to know, for every
source of intelligence is absent.

To some inconsiderate enthusiasts this may seem a cold belief, but in
reality it is anything but that, for my days and nights are freed from
that wet blanket of vague dread which makes so many mentally shiver; and
my time is passed pleasantly in the alternate labour required by duty,
and the repose necessary to recruit one's energies.

Let us, for a moment, consider what would be the condition of the world,
if each individual conducted himself according to the dictates of a pure
and enlightened morality, instead of according to the direction of a
body of Ecclesiastics.

We may, I think, fearlessly assert that there would be no wars, no
murders, thefts, adulteries, libels, violations of female purity; in
short, every one would do as he wished to be done by. In such a people
persecution would find no place, ignorance would not be permitted, and
law would be unnecessary. Other desirable things would also take place,
to which it is unnecessary to refer at large.

When all are strictly proper in every relation of life, I cannot believe
that anything more would be wanting to make the human family as happy
as it can be here. What, let us ask, would the orthodox declare was
amissing? The reply is, to my mind, awful: There would be, first, the
want of hatred and malice; then would be added the want of Hell-to which
enemies could be sent, and of a Heaven, in which the faithful could feed
their malignancy by watching the tortures of those whom they detested on

In fine, I beg to express my own deliberate opinion, which has been
growing stronger monthly since I first began to collect materials for
this work, that those who can find nerve to sweep from their minds the
trammels which have been woven around them by hundreds of generations of
hierarchs, and adopt the simple faith which I have above indicated, will
be far happier and better than ever they were before. No man will stand
between them and God, and they will find Him infinitely more good and
merciful than any of those who profess to be His agents.

There is yet another way by which the subject of "faith and reason" may
be approached, and their antagonism tested. This is by considering how
far the former is essentially human, and the latter divine--by which
we mean, superior to the propensity which all mankind has in common. We
recognize the importance of the inquiry, when we find Mr Gladstone,
a Prime Minister of England, discouraging the action resulting from
philosophical thought, because a man named Paul, some 1800 years ago,
recommended his friends to hold fast that which he, and they, under
his teaching, believed to be good. The speech of the Premier, which
was delivered at a large Liverpool School, and was written with unusual
care, held up, to a lot of schoolboys, the propositions of Strauss as
something which were so bad, that the enunciation of them carried with
it their refutation. Yet, at the same time, the speaker allowed that the
German thinker was conspicuous for intellectual attainments, powers of
thought beyond the ordinary run of mortals, sobriety in mental culture,
and boldness in the enunciation of the conclusions to which his reason
compelled him. In Mr Gladstone's opinion, such a man's doctrines
deserved to be withered; not because they were opposed to reason, to
logic, to the stern reality of facts, but because they opposed the
prejudices of certain persons educated in a different style of faith.

If we inquire in what way the German philosopher and the English bigot
differ, we can come to no other conclusion than that the one has used
his intellect upon the dogmas which have been presented to his mind,
from his infancy upwards, until they have been mistaken for fundamental
truths, whilst the other has exercised his mental powers upon something
beyond the doctrinal grounds on which his early education has been
framed. The then English Premier, who had to direct the state, allowed
himself to be guided by defunct men, precisely in the same way as
Pyrrhus, Croesus, and others, were governed by the pretended oracles at
Delphi, Dodona, and elsewhere. The man, in other words, who once wielded
the might of England, and is conspicuous for his classical acquirements,
is as much the slave of superstition as any ancient Egyptian or Grecian
monarch, only his oracles are not the same as theirs.

It is clear, that when the speech, to which reference has been made, was
composed, Mr Gladstone was under the influence of the belief, that what
he had been taught, and had adopted, must necessarily be the only truth
which can be relied on, at least, in its fundamental points. It is this
very presumption, this lazy habit of mind, that was long ago pointed out
by Bacon as being the most fertile cause of the retardation of science,
and it is remarkable that Oxford, as an University, and most of its
alumni, are still victims to the weakness referred to. It naturally
follows in the train of what is called classical learning, when the mind
is taught to remember rather than to think; and one easily believes that
he can recognize in the late Premier the gradual development of thought,
and can tell the epochs when cherished idols have been thrown aside,
with the energy of one who is suddenly roused to exercise a powerful
mind in an independent manner.

It would be useless to copy all the aphorisms by which Lord Bacon
attempted to destroy the old philosophy, which, in his time, was most
universally adopted, and to build up a new state of things, in which
science should advance, but a few of them are of such value that they
deserve recording. In _Novum Organum_, aph. 23 we read--"There is no
small difference between the fancies [--Greek--] of the human mind and
the ideas of the divine mind--that is, between certain notions that
please us, and the real stamp and impression made by created objects as
they are found in nature." That is to say, man commonly imagines things
to be what he fancies they ought to be, and neglects what they really
are. The learned aphorist then points out certain peculiarities of men,
by which they are induced to cleave to the bad, and neglect the good.

Aph. 46---"The human understanding, when any proposition has once
been laid down (either from general admission and belief, or from the
pleasure which it affords), forces everything to add to it support and
confirmation. But this evil insinuates itself still more craftily in
philosophy and in the sciences, in which a settled maxim vitiates and
governs every other circumstance, although the latter be much more
worthy of confidence." Aph. 47--"The human understanding is most excited
by that which strikes and enters the mind at once and suddenly, and
by which the imagination is immediately filled and inflated. It then
begins, almost imperceptibly, to conceive and suppose that everything
is similar to the few objects which have taken possession of the mind,
whilst it is very slow and unfit for the transition to the remote and
heterogeneous instances by which axioms are tried, as by fire, unless
the office be imposed upon it by severe regulations, and a powerful

We may paraphrase the preceding axiom thus:--Those who, from personal
preaching, or by parental influence, have adopted a certain belief in
the truth of that which has been taught to them as a "revelation," no
matter who the individuals are, or may have been, who propound it, are
loth, ever, to inquire into the real nature of the matter. Hence it is
that "clairvoyance" and "spiritualism" have so many staunch adherents.

Aph. 56--"Some dispositions evince an unbounded admiration of antiquity,
others eagerly embrace novelty, and but few can preserve the just
medium, so as neither to bear up what the ancients have correctly laid
down, nor to despise the just innovations of the moderns. This is very
prejudicial to the sciences and philosophy, and, instead of a correct
judgment, we have but the factions of the ancients and the moderns."

There are other aphorisms following, which point out the mischief of
following certain theories, simply because they have been long accepted,
and are generally supposed to be correct.

At the period when Bacon wrote, there was the same conservatism in
science and philosophy as there had been in the Roman Church for ages,
and very few, if any, had ventured to suggest the necessity for a
radical change. In England the reformation of church and state preceded
the reformation of philosophy; yet, there are many amongst us yet who
regard all such changes as a mistake. We constantly find individuals who
hanker after a despotic rule, by king or emperor, who cannot endure a
church in which there is no tyrannical head, nor a science which only
professes to advance, and refuses to be stationary.

Yet the thoughtful know how much the world would have lost, had it yet
been prostrate at the feet of Aristotle and of barbaric Popes; and there
is not a Christian who does not rejoice that Jesus prevented mankind
from worshipping Moses, and adhering to Hebraic notions.

When, therefore, an individual, professing to be learned, scouts the
propositions of a careful inductive and rigidly reasoning philosopher,
simply because they violate generally believed notions; and when,
in addition, he appeals to the ignorance and impressionability of
schoolboys rather than to the mature judgment of adults, he proclaims
himself, in that respect, at least, a bigot--of a dye as deep as those
fanatics who urged on their fellows to suppress the discoveries of
Galileo. But the matter does not end here. We recognize the necessity
for a public man, who has once proclaimed his adherence to the doctrines
of Revelation, and has preached the necessity for "faith," and its
superiority over reason--however calm and rigid, to go further, and
to proclaim that which he regards as Revelation, and who are the
individuals he will receive as the interpreters of that so-called
communication from God to man.

It is clear that the words which have been uttered by man require a
human expounder; equally clear is it that, if the original sayings are
regarded as being inspired, but, nevertheless, of doubtful meaning,
they can only be cleared up by other men, who are, like the original
oracles--"inspired." But, as a matter of fact, there are in our own
times three distinct sets of individuals who lay claim to the faculty of
interpretation; and these differ so amongst themselves, that certainly,
at least, two, and very probably all, are wrong.

The man, then, who is disposed to make faith his guide must, in so far
as Christianity is concerned, join himself either to the Greek or Roman
Church, whose pretensions to a divine presence in their midst have been
of the longest; or to the Protestant Church, which endeavours to oust
the other two upon the plea that they cannot be under divine teaching,
because they have become corrupt; and then, on the plea of having
discovered the alleged faults, it assumes to have the authority which
its predecessors have forfeited.

Thus, as we have frequently remarked before, man sits in judgment upon
Him whom he calls his maker. The Protestant Churches, however, are the
only ones who do not formally lay claim to having the divine presence
amongst them in a conspicuous degree; they do not pretend to the
performance of miracles, and they scout the idea that any modern
representative of Jesus can do any wonders like those that teacher did.
The Roman Church proves to the satisfaction of its votaries that "the
Lord" is still with them, inasmuch as the presence of the Virgin, in
a visible form, occurs to cheer her servants that trust in her
intercession, and even pictures of her become instinct with life.

If, then, an individual is resolved to walk by faith alone in matters of
religion, he is bound to join himself to that church wherein the divine
founder is habitually and visibly present; to whose saints the saviour
has appeared, and given stigmata like those which were produced in the
original by the barbarous nails and spear of the Roman soldiers. For the
votaries of faith--pure and unadulterated belief in things divine--the
only legitimate home is the bosom of the Papal Church. Why, then, do
not men, like Mr Gladstone, join it? Simply because their faith is not
a pure and confiding one. It is tainted by the doubt whether the
pretensions of the Roman See are sustainable, or by the certainty that
Popish miracles are contemptible shams. They believe that Francis
of Assisi made the stigmata, which he professed to receive from his
"crucified Saviour," by burning his hands, feet, and side, with some
strong caustic, or by a heated iron.

By these doubts, or certainties, individuals demonstrate that they are
not in the list of the faithful; for doubt implies unbelief, and both
are incompatible with faith pure and simple.

Whenever, then, a person confesses, by his words or actions, that he
does examine into the grounds of his belief, he is logically bound to
continue those inquiries into everything wherein there is a possibility
of human error creeping.

When we pursue our observations further, and inquire into the reasons
why a Papist believes certain things which a Protestant rejects, and
vice versa, we find that, in the first place, each believes what he has
been taught; he--to speak figuratively--imbibes his dogmas and belief
with his mother's milk; and when he advances in age, is taught and
imagines that he has mastered the stock arguments which are relied
upon by the opposite parties. There is, therefore, on first sight, a
reasoning power exercised by each; but it is not so, for the arguments
themselves, and their force, are regarded as matters of faith--as
weapons with which a warfare may be waged, but which, in no sense, are
to be tested by those who use them.

As far as the common run of religionists are concerned, they are all in
this "fool's paradise;" they fancy that they are secure, invincible, and
mighty, because they take their own prowess and their opponents weakness
as matters of faith. But when one of these comes into collision with
another whose reason is exercised upon facts and the deductions to be
drawn from them, the questions occur, possibly for the first time, Are
the grounds of my belief tenable? am I justified in using my reason only
in one direction? if I profess to argue, am I not bound to be logical?
and if what has been given to me as sound meat, is rotten in reality, am
I bound to eat it? can it do me good in any way? When a thoughtful man
has arrived at this point, he has to elect between Faith and Reason.
Then, if, like Mr Gladstone, he foresees to what his inquiries will
probably lead, and is disinclined to pull down a cherished edifice,
even to erect a better, he will naturally cling to the old belief,
saying--"With all thy faults, I love thee still." With his eyes wide
open he hails the banner of bigotry, no matter what may be the scutcheon
which it bears.

Then come the important questions--"What right has any religious bigot
to profess himself a liberal?" and, "With what face can a man, who
refuses to exercise his understanding upon what he calls the most
important part of life, i.e., the preparation for eternity, proclaim
himself a friend of education?"

To insist upon the value of "learning" in forming the mind, and then
to set the example of recoiling from the knowledge which intellectual
efforts bring, is, in a statesman, a mean vacillation. Mr Gladstone
ought either to proclaim that his ideas are those of the Jesuits, or
to pronounce in favour of education, to whatever goal it legitimately
tends. To say to boys--or men--you must learn to think; but you must
only come to the same conclusions as myself, would disgrace a statesman
of a free country, though such a proclamation would seem natural to a
pope, or any other tyrant I do not, for a moment, assert that the then
Premier of England did, in a written, and, therefore, a deliberate
speech, to a large and influential school of boys, utter the words
which I have used; on the contrary, he employed his rhetorical powers
to express the idea, without either clearly understanding it himself, or
giving the lads a clue to it. Had the meaning of the discourse been put
into a few pregnant sentences, it may be doubted whether it would ever
have been uttered.

If Mr Gladstone, like the mythical Elijah, had placed before his
auditors, in naked words, the proposition--"Choose ye this day whom ye
will serve, Faith or Reason," his discourse would have been clear. Even
his own mind could not have painted the two as being the same thing; nor
would a school-boy have failed to see that, in the future, he must
elect between indefinitely expanding his intelligence, and materially
contracting his intellect to the narrow limits prescribed by the faith
of his parents.

To my mind it is sad to witness men of great general capacity, like the
late Dr Faraday, and the past Prime Minister of Great Britain, shunning,
in every way, an inquiry into the basis of their belief. We cannot
regard this as a result of simple intellectual indolence, or ignorance.
The only cause to which we can attribute it, is that weakness which,
by most people, is called moral cowardice; a fear, not so much of Mrs
Grundy--the world and its dread laugh--but the fear of some unseen,
unknown, incomprehensible danger to themselves--of dangers that have no
reality, except in an imagination which has been moulded long before the
mind was capable of thought, but whose hold upon the individual is
such, that he shrinks from the mental effort necessary to efface its

There is yet another phase of faith, which deserves a passing mention.
It is that which declines to see or to hear a proof or an argument, lest
it should be convinced against its will. There are many men amongst us
who, in Scripture phrase, refuse to hear the voice of the charmer, charm
he never so wisely. This obstinacy, stupidity, dogged-ness, or firmness,
is quite compatible with a partially cultivated intellect, and is in
itself a measure of intellectual capacity. I have heard, for example, a
learned divine, but one whose writings are often so bemuddled, that the
ideas which they contain are as difficult to discover "as a needle in
a bottle of hay," declare that he would no more listen to an argument
against the existence of "the trinity," than he would open his ears to
hear evidence that his wife or mother was adulterous.

Such strong asseverations we may sympathize with, and even admire; but
they prove nothing beyond the impracticability of an individual mind,
or what, in some cases, takes its place--viz., the injudiciousness of
acknowledging a truth, when the enunciation of a belief in it would be
followed by unpleasant consequences.

Again, I know of another divine, who has steadily refused to inquire
into the value of what are called "the Christian evidences," his reason
being, that he is conscious that inquiry would shake his confidence in
the doctrines which he teaches. He clings to what he feels to be a sham,
lest others should, by his means, regard it in its proper light.

Another divine, who has not feared to be an inquirer, is incessantly
persecuted by his brethren, not because he has asserted his intellectual
freedom, but because, by having done so, he has, by implication, cast
a sort of odium upon those who hug their mental darkness. His argument
is--Can a man who hates the light be worthy to speak of the "Sun of
Righteousness?" Their reasoning is based upon the assertion, that those
who live in darkness, and like it, need not be told about a luminary.
If people chose to believe that the moon is made of green cheese, it is
more profitable to talk to them about its connection with the milky
way, than to say that the notion is absurd. Faith teaches that, where
ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise; whilst reason only impels one
to habitual thought or mental worry.

Other divines of my acquaintance have used their reason in a twofold
way: they have ceased to hold their first faith, yet they hold their
"livings," as they have no other means of subsistence; whilst a few
have, with their advancement in knowledge, paid for their knowledge by
embracing poverty.

The world treats those who walk upon the ground with a far greater
injustice than it treats those who lie beneath its surface. For a man
who disturbs us in our fool's paradise, more feet than hands are used;
but to him who only disturbed the father's complacency, and taught the
son in youth, we erect memorial statues. Jesus was crucified when he was
alive, and deified when dead. His apostles were persecuted when living;
now that they are deceased, they are called saints. Savonarola was burnt
alive at Florence; now his memory is cherished, and his worth fully
known. Luther was detested when he was able to thunder in men's ears;
now he is regarded as a son of light. The present Pope, Pio Nono,
has found an obsequious council, whose voices have declared him to be
infallible--a god upon earth; the time will come when that Pope, and
that council, will be regarded as the personification of blasphemy
and folly. The days of Faith will be everlasting; but her power to act
wickedly will be curtailed more and more. The reign of Reason advances
every year, for it is allied to thought and knowledge; and we may fairly
hope that the old adage will be true--_Magna est Veritas et praevalebit_.

It may be said that, in the preceding parts of this essay, I have wholly
lost sight of, or, at least, have not referred to the argument--or
the statement, made by the upholders of faith, as a rule of life--that
reason has nothing to do with things divine, and that where God has made
a direct revelation of His will to man, no human being has a right to
criticise or object to it.

This kind of remark is in the mouth of every preacher, and each minister
who utters it imagines that he deals a blow so very heavy that nothing
can stand against it. But in reality it is only a big bubble, which
collapses when it is touched. "How," for example, we may ask, "can
anything be recognized as divine, unless human judgment is passed upon
it? or, How can any revelation be accepted, unless the mind has examined
the messenger and the message?" Who would believe the ravings of a
lunatic, even though he told us that God had sent him with a message
to man? Why do Christians, as a body, reject the revelation made to
Mahomet, and the frequent inspirations which give laws to the latter-day
saints? To these queries the reply is--"Because we know that God does
not speak to man now, and that when the bible was closed all revelation
ceased." But when we inquire into the reason for this belief we can
find not one. Every theologian must allow that the God who spoke once to
Moses spoke again; that He supplanted one dispensation by a second, and
has promised a third.

Thus we see, that by their own books, the orthodox are bound to believe
that supplementary communications must be made to the human race;
consequently, when any one asserts that he is a divine prophet, his
pretensions are examined. The faithful Christian disbelieved in Mahomet;
the trusting Arabs believed in his mission, and fought for their creed.
They, like orthodox divines of to-day, refused to use their reason
in things divine, and to cavil at a revelation, Unable to agree, the
followers of Jesus, and those of Mohammed, fought, the latter almost
annihilating the former for a time, thus proving the value of their
faith. Both parties had a firm belief--the one in the prophet of
Nazareth, the other in the prophet of Arabia; and no reasoning could
have convinced either that his trust was misplaced; nor, to this day,
has reason convinced the Mahometans that Jesus was superior to Mahomet,
or the Christian that the Arab sectarian was a prophet at all; and it
is singular that both parties call in reason in attestation of their
respective creeds.

Is, then, the sturdy English theologian to be content to leave the
followers of Islam alone, because they have faith? or, must he still
endeavour to convert them by the use of reason? Can the Christian adopt
the belief that Mahometan and Mormon are both orthodox because they have
faith? and that the Jew must still be dear to Jehovah, inasmuch as he
still clings closely by faith to the revelation given to Moses and the
prophets? If this cannot be done, how can the follower of Jesus hope to
convert others to his belief, unless by the use of reason? If, then, the
theologian uses reason as a weapon against heterodoxy, upon what ground
can he object to its being employed by another? Latter-day saints have
made many proselytes in Christendom, and a Mahometan floored in debate
the late pious Missionary, Henry Martyn, whose propositions were met
by counter ones, and every one of whose arguments was taken up and
retorted, the names only of the persons spoken of being changed. "I
know," said the one, "that God spoke to us by Christ Jesus"--"I know,"
said the other, "that Allah spoke to us by Mahomet" "You are wrong, my
friend," said one, "Allah has not spoken to man since the last Apostle
died." "You are wrong," said the other, "God has spoken to us long after
that. You may call Mahomet an apostle, if you like; we call him a
prophet of Allah, and know that he was one." And so controversy goes on
now where there is faith without reason.

It is clear, then, that truth cannot be established by any number of
people thundering out "I believe it," and by their victoriously fighting
for it. The argument, therefore, which I may be accused of omitting, is
of no value at all; it is sheer nonsense--a windbag, or, perhaps, it may
best be compared to a boomerang, which, when badly used, recoils upon
the person of him who threw it. Of such arguments theology is builded


     Honesty.   A question propounded.   Are "divines" honest?
     Meaning of the word.    Learners and teachers--their
     relations to each other.    Honesty expected in a professor.
     Teachers of religion are trusted--they are bound to be
     faithful.   Political rights of men in respect of the clergy
     of the Established Church.    Right to see that religion is
     not adulterated. Man's right to truth.   What truth is not.
     Assertions required at "ordination."  Canonical Scriptures.
     Verbal inspiration.   Doubts of laity.   Two schools--those
     who will and those who will not inquire.     Rev.   Dr
     Colenso.   Rev. Dr Browne.   Precious stones and "paste."
     How should a doubt be tackled--by inquiry,  or  by ignoring
     it?    An   analogy. Compass and bible.    If compass wrong,
     why steer by it?   Passenger and captain--one appeals to
     stars, the other to his owners and the seamen under him.
     Precision of Colenso--his words falsified so as to be
     confuted: this is not honesty.    Is Bishop Browne honest in
     controversy? Tabernacle, temple, doors, &c.   The _Speaker's
     Commentary_ not an honest book.    Papal falsehoods; false
     decretals; false letter from Prester John. Pious frauds.
     Influence of dishonest teaching on education.    The point
     involved in sectarian discussions.   Lying miracles--are
     they promulgated honestly?   Is it honest in religion to
     promulgate that which we knew to be wrong, or which we dare
     not inquire into for fear of consequences?    Do Papal
     authorities believe in the annual miracle at Naples?  The
     Protestant Church judged by a ruler of Siam.    Bigotry, by
     not inquiring, does not establish truth.    Each man who is
     deceived has a propensity to deceive others.   The masses
     agree to be deceived.    Mr Gladstone on education. His
     proposition that inquiry is bad if it leads to change of
     religious opinions.   Anecdotes of stupidity.   Sailing in
     search of truth.    Captains who avoid the right course.
     The condition of society when the schoolmaster overrides the
     ecclesiastic.    Reason and education ought to precede
     faith. Result of honesty.   Divines recoil from the honest
     truth.    Parsons in their pulpit preach what their week-day
     precepts oppose.   Honesty in ecclesiastical matters is not
     the best policy.    Divines and the silversmiths of Ephesus.
     Examples.    An honest parson is persecuted by his fellows:
     this insures mediocrity and bigotry.   If an author cannot
     be persecuted he is avoided.    Ecclesiastics persecute
     their colleagues, but do not prove them wrong.
     Excommunication easier than refutation.   What an honest
     merchant and divine should do when they discover a diamond
     to be paste. Ought the divine to be less honest than the
     merchant?   The Author's challenge.   Conclusion.

I am now about to propound a question which I have heard mooted in quiet
by many, but for which publicity seems to be dreaded by all--_viz_., "Is
there honesty amongst Christians, and especially amongst the hierarchy
of the Churches of England and Rome?"

No one can doubt the importance of the subject; there is not a
thoughtful person who does not, in words at least, scorn to build up his
everlasting belief upon a fable, and who does not affect to be disgusted
with everyone who is deliberately untruthful I speak not now of those
time-servers who regard every artifice to be fair in love, war, and
theology; but only of those earnest minds who are anxious to seek out
and to hold fast that which is true, and who, under all circumstances,
resolve to be honest with themselves. That there may be no doubt as to
the sense in which I use the word, the following may be regarded as,
in my opinion, the synonyms which are properly given in _Webster's
Dictionary_--"Integrity, probity, uprightness, trustiness,
faithfulness, honour, justice, equity, fairness, candour, plain dealing,
veracity." To this may be added--"not bearing false witness."

Presuming that English scholars agree in this definition, let me now
inquire whether "we"--by which term I mean the non-theological class by
profession--have a right to expect "honesty" amongst our teachers--be
they Roman, Anglican, Hibernian, Scottish, Unitarian, Wesleyan, or of
any other body? and, in the next place, whether we get that to which
we are entitled? Presuming that it is necessary to begin with the
foundation, let us first inquire into "our rights," and whence they are
supposed to be derived.

The positions of a learner and a teacher--or a disciple and a
master--are, in some cases, different to what they are in others; for
example, I need not, unless I think it desirable, learn astronomy,
chemistry, the art of telegraphing, or that of ship-building; but if I
do elect to learn any of these matters, and engage a man to instruct
me, I have a legal claim upon him for his services. There is, indeed, a
contract between us--he engaging to teach me, and I agreeing to pay him
for his labour. In my selection of a professor, it is quite possible
that I have not chosen the best; nay, seeing that I require to be
taught, it is nearly certain that I cannot assume the position of a
judge as regards the superiority of one teacher over another. But when
the agreement is once entered into, each of the parties is bound to
perform his part of the contract to the best of his ability. If, for
example, I bargain with a master to teach me Spanish, and I, being
wholly ignorant thereof, am instructed in Portuguese, I have a definite
legal claim for redress.

If, on the other hand, the law, or the custom of the country, compels
me to take a certain class of teachers, whether they are competent or
worthless, I, as one of the community, am justified in investigating the
intellectual power of the professors, individually and collectively, in
every way in my power.

At one period, when autocracy, or tyranny, was supreme, this right was
denied, and the legislators made it a criminal matter for any one to
call in question the nature of the instruction which was given to the
people in matters of politics, religion, and other things, wherein the
government was concerned. At the present time there are few, if any,
states whose ruling powers demand from the people such an abject

But, although a republic may allow unlimited latitude of opinion in
matters of political economy, there may be a religious section within
it, which consists of those who consent to be led, in matters of faith,
by certain individuals, who, on their parts, are declared to be, by
some power that the laity are disposed to submit to, the only persons
competent to conduct persons to a happy eternity.

Every individual in such a family is associated with the rest by
voluntary ties. He may, if he chooses, inquire into the capacity of his
guide; he is at perfect liberty to analyse his arguments, to inquire
into his allegations, and, speaking generally, to test his truth. If, as
a result of the investigation, any one is satisfied that the teacher is
incompetent, the two are perfectly clear to make new engagements. There
has been no definite contract, nor can there be any legal claim for a
presumed breach thereof.

When, on the other hand, there is a State Religion, supported by
Parliamentary authority, and to which, in one way or another, the
majority of the people must subscribe, each man has as perfect a right
to see that he gets what he pays for, as he has to see that the member
of parliament for whom he votes, does not neglect the interests of the
town which he represents.

As an Englishman, I have no right to call in question the power of the
Pope of Rome, the Patriarch of the Greek Church, the Elder of the Mormon
Communion, the Arch-Pneuma of the Spiritualists, or any other religious
head, to teach his followers any doctrine that he may please. I may
laugh at the "false decretals" of the papacy, and the charlatanerie of
the clairvoyants; but no political right supports me in my calling them
to account for their stewardship.

On the other hand, when I know that the bishops of the Church of England
are parties to the formation of our laws, and I find myself called upon
to pay tithes or dues to individuals of the same establishment, I have
a political right to ascertain, that the persons actually do what they
profess to do for their money or position. If, for example, I live in a
sparsely populated district, I and all my family are dependent upon the
parson of the parish for instruction how to get to heaven; or, as an
alternative, if I do not agree with his doctrine, I may abstain from
being instructed at all. If, on the contrary, I inhabit a large town,
still I am dependent for religious teaching upon the state clergyman,
unless I elect to do without him, and any one else of the same
persuasion, or select some non-conformist preacher who is to me no less
offensive than the parliamentary parson.

When a confraternity has obtained, no matter how, or by what means, a
definite prescriptive right to sell a certain material to the community
at large, the latter have certainly a legal power to see that the stuff
given is according to contract. If a company of millers engage, for
certain privileges, to sell good wheat flour to all comers, the last can
deprive them of their exclusive right, provided that it can be proved
either that the flour is bad, or that it comes from barley, rye, oats,
or potatoes, or is adulterated with gypsum, &c.

Presuming that this argument is tenable, our next inquiry is into that
which our national church professes to sell, or to impart, in return for
its privileges. In the fewest possible words we may say, that its duty
is to impart "truth," or to teach what is, in its learned and educated
opinion, the true religion for life and eternity.

The word truth is one which lies at the root of our question respecting
honesty. Pilate is reported to have said--"What is truth?" We may put
the same question now.

Without saying what "truth" is, we can readily declare what is
"untruth." It is not truth if we, in argument, misrepresent an
adversary; affirm that he made a certain statement, and then oppose--not
the thing said--but some other matter which was not spoken of at all,
and then assert that we have confuted him.

It is not truth to affirm, that observations recently made have been
oftentimes presented before, and always successfully refuted, when
the remarks in question are novel, never have been controverted, and
apparently, are not capable of being disproved.

It is not truth to affirm, that human "authority," which, has been long
acknowledged, can falsify "a fact," or make an unfounded assertion equal
to a reality; or to declare, that one religion is good and another bad,
simply because the speaker believes the matter to be so.

It is not truth to assert, that a certain book, and every part of it,
is the revealed word of God, when it is known to be contradicted by
science--i.e.t by a knowledge of the laws imposed on creation by its
Maker, to be inconsistent with itself, and to contain internal evidence
that it was composed by men of small knowledge and of grovelling

It is not truth to affirm, that if God's world proves what is called
God's Book to be wrong, science must be neglected and the Bible upheld.

It is not truth to affirm that God spoke exclusively to one people, when
it is known that the race in question drew nearly, if not quite, all
their religious beliefs, from the neighbours amongst whom they were

It is not honest to propound in the pulpit the propriety of examining
the Scriptures daily, and yet to persecute any one who by doing so
becomes convinced of their human origin.

It would be honest, and prove the existence of a love of truth, if every
preacher of every denomination spent as much time in trying the value of
his text-book, as he does now in expounding it and explaining it away.

We should imagine that a minister loved truth, if he were first to ask
himself how he treats the Vedas and Puranas, the Avesta, the Koran, the
Apocryphal Gospels, the Apocrypha, the Book of Mormon, the visions and
prophecies of "Latter-day saints," "Friends," Roman visionaries, and
the oracles delivered at Delphi and elsewhere, and then to treat his own
book with the same measure as he used with the others.

On the other hand, we should regard him as untruthful and dishonest,
if he weighed the books and belief of others with weights and scales
different to those with which he tried his own.

From each minister of religion the people have a right to demand an
impartial inquiry into the absolute value of the doctrines which he
teaches, and an investigation into the foundation, as well as the
superstructure; and they may require, still further, that he, like
Great-heart in Bunyan's story, shall do battle with assailants. When
such a leader professes to fight, but always avoids the shock of
battle, he cannot be regarded either as honest, or as comparable with
Valiant-for-truth in the _Pilgrim's Progress_.

We are then, as laymen, justified in requiring that our spiritual
leaders shall take a conspicuous part in examining the grounds of the
faith which they teach, and that the leaders of the Established Church
shall seek to establish its doctrine upon as firm basis as it is
possible to obtain.

This certainly involves inquiry and discussion upon those points which
modern criticism has prominently advanced.

When we turn to the "Prayer Book," we find that Deacons are required to
say, that they unfeignedly believe all the Canonical Scriptures. Priests
are obliged to affirm that the Holy Scriptures contain sufficiently all
doctrine required of necessity for eternal salvation, through faith in
Jesus Christ, &c. In the consecration of bishops the same, or nearly the
same, formula is gone through. Thus, at the outset of their career, the
ministers of the Church of England commit themselves to, or are required
by law to make, a declaration which will preclude inquiry into the value
of the book on which their teaching is founded; their first step in the
ministry puts it out of their power to be honest, if experience should
teach them more than they knew when young. The bishops and priests,
however, when they subscribe to the opinion that the Bible contains all
things necessary for salvation, do not pledge themselves to the belief
that every sentence, part, division, book, or arrangement of the
Canonical Scriptures is, and must of necessity be, true. Even in the
dawn of ecclesiastical information in England, there was not a belief in
the verbal inspiration of the Bible.

Of late years, when habits of thought and the art of printing have
increased, the knowledge, and consequently, the power of the laity
disproportionally to the advance made by clerics--a strong propensity
to accumulate facts, and to argue thereupon has been very generally
developed, and the increased information obtained has induced steadily
increasing numbers to doubt, not only the verbal inspiration, but even
the historical truth of the Scriptures. When this difficulty occurred,
or rather, when it became recognized, scholars, no matter whether
they were professional or amateur ecclesiastics, divided themselves
involuntarily (we may fairly say, unknowingly, inasmuch as each
individual worked quite independently, in the first place, of another)
into those who believed that, if the Holy Spirit dictated the
Scriptures, he must have seen that his amanuensis wrote correctly; those
who imagined that the Bible was to be taken "in the lump;" and those
who considered that the Scriptures are entirely of human origin, and
absolutely valueless as a guide of faith. Consequently, three schools
have arisen, two of which are essentially ecclesiastic. Of these,
one regards all inquiry into the accepted text as improper, the other
considers that everything should be done to verify the value of the
so-called original Scripture.

Amongst the latter, Dr Colenso, Bishop of Natal, stands out
conspicuously. Of the highest intellectual attainments, trained to close
and scientific inquiry; able, far better than men of meaner capacity, to
weigh the value of "evidence," whether "ancient or modern," he has drawn
the conclusion that the Bible is not what it is generally supposed to
be; in other words, that its historical portions are not trustworthy,
and that there is grave reason to believe its writings to have been
produced for a purpose, which involved dishonesty in the scribe, and in
the promulgator of his writings. The learned doctor was honest in his
investigation, and fearless in announcing his conclusions.

As an upright man, the Bishop of Natal is as completely justified in his
inquiry into the validity or importance of an ancient book, alleged to
be a pearl of great price, a gem or diamond of the first water, as the
official curator of a museum would be, in determining whether a certain
ruby, given into his charge, were real or artificial. Of the necessity
of such an inquiry, the following anecdote, which was told me by the
gentleman concerned, will convince the reader:--

A wealthy lady, of high position in life, sent to a museum, for
exhibition, a number of "precious stones." If they were really what they
were supposed and stated to be, their value would have been reckoned by
thousands of pounds sterling. If accepted as genuine, and found, upon
their restoration to the depositor, to be imitation jewels, the curator
would be liable, not only for their value, but his character for honesty
would be gone; consequently, ere he gave a receipt for the lot, he
tested each. Not one was real!

This man was in the position which Dr Colenso occupies now. The owner of
the jewels was indignant at the idea that the stones were false, and the
apparent insinuation that imitations were being foisted on the public as
realities; but her fury did not alter the fact. If she were artful, her
plan was detected; if she had been deceived, her anger, though useless,
was justified.

On the other hand, there are many Bishops who uphold the verbal
inspiration of the Bible, and will not inquire if the gem be real, or
only test it by plans known to be valueless for the purpose. Some do not
go altogether so far as this, They consider it obligatory upon them to
examine just a little bit, but not to go too deeply, lest they should be
forced to believe that there never was such a man as Moses--a man who
is commonly reported to have written certain books at a distant period.
Some persons seem to think that their hope of happiness in this, as well
as in another world, and not only their own, but that of everybody who
is under their instruction, depends upon their feeling sure that Israel
was once in Egypt--that Abraham begat Isaac, and became the progenitor
of an innumerable offspring, exceeding in number the Indians of
Hindostan, the Assyrians of Mesopotamia, the Egyptians of the Nile, and
the Romans of Italy. Between these two inquirers, if the latter class
can fairly be called such, the issue is distinct. There can be no
difficulty amongst scholars as to the means by which the question ought
to be settled.

An appeal to hard and dry facts is the plan adopted by philosophers. For
men, who have a single eye to discover the truth, it matters little in
what direction their inquiries lead them. Metaphorically speaking, they
may begin a series of investigations, expecting that everything will
lead them northwards, and they end by reaching the south; just as many
an enthusiastic, but little instructed, man has accumulated "pyrites,"
under the impression that it was an ore of gold, and found, on inquiry,
that the material was a sulphuret of iron, and of small commercial

But it is this very possibility of research bringing them to an
undesirable goal, which deters so many of our divines from making any
inquiry. Outwardly, they allow that it is their duty, as leaders, to
examine, not only the condition of their own forces, but the position
and power of those who assail the army which they profess to guide.
Inwardly they find reasons for remaining quiet, and excuse themselves to
their followers in some plausible fashion.

Why, however, should any goal be undesirable which leads us nearer to
truth? Why should any body of professedly learned-men run the risk
of being considered wanting in honesty, or candour, by avoiding their
opponents, whom they are in honour bound to encounter?

The reply to these questions generally runs thus:--"We, as ministers
of the Established Church of England, are bound to be faithful to the
Bible, and to it we must adhere, whatever our own private judgment
may be. We did not make the law; we simply take it as we find it, and,
having sworn to obey it, we do so." This answer would be exhaustive, if
it were the fact that the laity made the law for the theologians. But,
as we know, that the ecclesiastics have, in the last resort always made
laws for themselves, the rejoinder is not conclusive History tells us
how ministers of religion have instructed the people, and how these,
again, have legislated under the tuition of their advisers. When
Paganism was supplanted by Christianity, the change was effected by
preachers, who taught the populace to believe the new doctrine, and who
influenced the minds of the lawmakers. In like manner, when Popery in
England was put down by the Protestants, each party was headed by its
priests. Many a minister, at that period, felt bound to follow what he
believed to be truth, rather than to abide by a vow made in youth;
and they who had upheld the authenticity of Popish miracles, and of
Apocryphal Scriptures, ceased to give credence to them, or to use them
as authorities in matters of religion. These men were honest.

That which has been done by men aforetime, may be done or imitated in
our own day; and our divines have as great a power to examine into the
value of the Bible now, as they had at the Reformation. If they refuse
to make the inquest suggested--in what way, may we ask, do they differ
from the Romanists in the time of Luther, who would not inquire into the
truth of his arguments lest they should be convinced? Can any one who
professes to be a Protestant--a child of the Reformation--honestly
refuse to investigate the grounds of the faith which is in him, and
shelter himself, as Bonner and others did, under the pretext of a
declaration or vow made at ordination?

If those who make the excuse just referred to, are honest, they are
bound to reject every doctrine which they, or their predecessors, have
received from Romish priests, who propounded in adult life, doctrines
different to those which they professed when yet almost children.

To illustrate the tendency of our remarks still further, let us, for a
moment, suppose that the captain of a ship has, from any cause whatever,
adopted a particular "compass" by which he directs his course, and which
perhaps he calls by the name of Faith. All in the vessel are, to a great
extent, dependent upon him for a successful voyage, and a safe arrival
at the desired haven. Seeing how the master-mariner honours the magnetic
needle, every thoughtful passenger will probably consult it in like
manner. One more advanced in knowledge than the rest may desire to test
the instrument by the position of the pole star, and thinking that he
could recognize the latter, might infer that the magnet did not point
truly. This doubt, we will imagine still further, he imparts to the
captain, who, disinclined to distrust his compass, endeavours to
demonstrate that the position of the pole star is doubtful.

In the place of the mariners' compass let us read the "Bible," and,
instead of the pole star, let us substitute "science." We shall then
recognize the position of such men as the Bishop of Winchester and Dr
Colenso--the latter endeavours to test the value of the instrument which
is most used by churchmen by certain well-known means; the former,
on the contrary, aims to demonstrate that what he regards as a true
indicator is so in spite of all which the planets prove to the contrary.

To carry on our metaphor a point further, let us imagine that the
captain and the doubting passenger appeal to the seamen and the other
people on board the barque--the latter telling in simple terms the
grounds of his belief, whilst the former appeals to the passions of
those who have long trusted him, and only notices the arguments of his
opponent to misrepresent them. This is what was done by the Papists, in
every country, at the time of the Reformation, and which more recently
has been done by the Bishops and Archbishops of the Church of England,
when in controversy with the Bishop of Natal Dr Colenso has in
voluminous works, and with a precision which every scholar must admire,
shown that the Old Testament--the "compass" of churchmen--is not what it
is supposed to be. Against his views a new "Bible commentary" has been
issued, with the sanction of the highest ecclesiastical dignitaries; and
in it the authors stoop to misrepresentation! If there were no pretence
of joint authorship, one might imagine that each writer was responsible
only for his own shortcomings; but when there is a parade of great
names, which is intended to demonstrate the almost infallible truth of
everything (except typographical errors), one is bound to treat the
contributors as being on a level with each other, and all hierarchical
coadjutors. How can any one, with a tendency towards fair dealing,
characterize but with the epithet "contemptible dishonesty," a
deliberate quotation from Dr Colenso, which is falsified, that the
fabrication may be refuted? The Bishop of Natal's argument is a just
one, and, although it is only contained in a note and not in the text
itself, is of great weight. It runs thus (Part v., p. 97)--"Of course
the fact that the tabernacle at Shiloh had _doors_ (1 Sam. iii. 15)--
that the lamp was allowed regularly to _go out_ in it (1 Sam. iii. 3),
and that Samuel _slept_ in it, and apparently Eli also (1 Sam. iii. 2,
3), are sufficient to show that this could not have been the 'Mosaic
Tabernacle.'" This is a fair and scholarly statement; the layman
recognizes it as such, and looks to his ecclesiastical superior for an
honest opinion on its value. What does he find? Simply this--Bishop
Browne answers: "The objection (Colenso, Part v., p. 97) that the
Tabernacle (at Shiloh) could not be the tabernacle, in the wilderness,
because it had a 'door' (1 Sam. ii. 22) is rather singular, if we
observe that the words in Samuel, on which the objection is founded--
'The women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the
congregation'--are literally a quotation from Exod. xxxviii. 8--'The
women assembling, which assembled at the door of the tabernacle of
congregation.' Of course the word door, fine _pethah_, is as applicable
to a tent door as to a house door, and is constantly used of the door of
the Tabernacle in the Pentateuch."

In this observation of the Bishop of Winchester a false issue is
deliberately raised; the quotation given by Colenso is not touched, and
for it another, wide of the mark, is substituted! In the verse referred
to by the Bishop of Natal the words are--"And Samuel lay until the
morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord," &c.--"doors"
being in the original, _dalethoth_--a different word altogether to
_pethah_, and certainly in the plural number. In other language, we may
say that in the _Speaker's Bible_, almost every argument and criticism
of Colenso and his German authorities are left unnoticed and unanswered;
and this, almost the only quotation made, is not a true one! Is this
honest? So gross, in my opinion, is the want of candour shown in this
case, that I, for one, cannot trust a single assertion of the Bishop
of Ely, now translated to Winchester, even when he quotes chapter and
verse, until I have verified the extract.

But the flagrancy of the proceeding is, if it can be, heightened by a
reference to the subject Dr Colenso was endeavouring to show, by those
undesigned coincidences, that hierarchs profess to love so much, and
which they parade with great earnestness when it suits their purpose,
that the tabernacle at Shiloh was not that described in the Pentateuch.
It was perfectly open to Dr Browne to adduce evidence that it was the
same. This he does not do--the scholar can well understand the reason
why, viz., that a close inquiry supports the Bishop of Natal's view. For
example, in 1 Sam. L 9, we find that Eli is sitting "upon a seat by
a post of the temple of the Lord." This sentence is significant in
English, it is much more so in Hebrew. The words "post" and "temple"
certainly are quite incompatible with a tent or tabernacle. In the
Hebrew, the tabernacle is generally spoken of as _ohel_, whilst "temple"
is _heckal_. Still further, the expression, "post of the temple," is
peculiar, because a corresponding one is found only once in the Old
Testament--viz., in Ezek. xli. 21, where the English version has "the
posts of the temple," whilst the marginal reading has "post" The word
_heckal_ is in constant use throughout the later Jewish books, but does
not occur once in the Pentateuch; and it is a significant fact that, in
1 Kings xxi. 1, 2 Kings xx. 18, Ps. xlv. 8, cxliv. 12, Pro. xxx. 28, Is.
xiii. 22, xxxix. 7, Dan. i. 4, the word in question is translated in our
authorized version _palace_.

As the idea of a palace--a royal residence, is totally distinct from a
tent or tabernacle, it is clear that the narrative about Eli, Hannah,
and Samuel, was written by some one to whom the story told in
the Pentateuch was quite unknown. The dishonesty--we speak thus,
controversially--of the bishops concerned in the new commentary is not
only shown in the _suggestio falsi_, but in the _suppressio veri_; and
no amount of skill in argument or of book-learning can, amongst those
who are aware of the fraud, get over the effect which is produced by
the cheat. It is evident, that the questions which the Bishops ask
themselves are--"Since there are so many who are wholly ignorant of this
matter, shall we not do more to uphold current ideas by fraud than by
truth?" and, "Is it not right for us to risk our own souls in support of
a faith which we do not, but which the people do, believe?"

In a time when all men are ignorant enough not to understand what is
history and what pure fable; when they are so careless as not to examine
quotations, made from "authorities," in confirmation of opinions, or
so credulous as to believe anything which a churchman, and,
_par-excellence_, a Bishop, may affirm, it may be regarded by
ecclesiastical writers as a pardonable sin, if not, indeed, a tactical
master stroke, to misrepresent an adversary. But in the present day,
when all educated Englishmen have heard of the false decretals on which
the Popes have founded their claims to superiority, and the astute
legend of Prester John, it is bad policy for a Bishop to found an
argument upon a wrong quotation, or to imagine that a glaring untruth
can by any possibility support his position. For myself, I confess that
I began to read the _Speaker's Commentary_ with interest, inasmuch as
it purported to be an exposition and refutation of the arguments against
the authenticity of certain Biblical writings; but when I found an
English hierarch could so forget his duty to "the truth" as to misquote
such a man as his episcopal brother, the Bishop of Natal, I abstained
from a farther perusal, for I found the necessity of verifying
quotations involved more time than I could afford. Dr Colenso has,
however, sufficiently shown the viciousness of the new commentary, and
there is no necessity for a second investigator.

From what has been said, we have shown that the members of the Church
of England, and all Protestant dissenters, have a right to expect from
their teachers an opinion, founded upon learned inquiry, "whether the
objections made by scholarly critics against the inspiration of the
Bible are well founded," and that ministers of all denominations, as a
body, not only shirk the duty, but persecute such of their fraternity as
venture to do so.

When an individual in the community accepts a trust and does not fulfil
it, he is amenable to the law; and if it can be proved that there has
been wilful negligence, the trustee may be punished. This does not,
however, apply directly to the clergy, for the trust which is confided
to them is to preach and teach from the Bible. That, certainly, is
what they engage to do before the law, but the very essence of their
existence as ministers of religion is, that they shall instruct men
in the way of salvation. This trust, which is never put into legal
phraseology, is proclaimed to be in existence by every preacher; and
each minister, by implication or assertion, declares that he is desirous
of exercising this trust to the best of his ability. If, then, the
real value of his leadership is challenged, he ought, as a champion,
to defend it. He does so in every point, except that which is most
essential He will discuss circumcision with a Jew, infant christening
with a baptist, purgatory with a popish priest, bishops with a
presbyterian, confession with a ritualist, and the like. There must,
then, be some cause why Revelation should not be treated of.

If we consult human nature, the only causes to which we can assign this
reticence are, conscientious cowardice and dishonesty. The first is,
by many persons, regarded as a duty--they are taught that it is sin to
doubt; the second is not called by its right name. Yet, as we have said
elsewhere, our religious societies are founded upon the principle of
sowing doubt broadcast; and we denounce the pious frauds which invented
winking virgins and bleeding nuns. Surely, if there be any truth in the
line--"An honest man's the noblest work of God," it is most essential
that they, who style themselves His ministers, ought to be conspicuously
honourable, candid, and thoroughly trustworthy in matters of doctrine as
well as of morality.

The subject on which we are now treating has ramifications so wide, that
it is difficult to see the end of the branches. Amongst the most obvious
is the influence which it has upon the matter of public education--one
which occupies a large portion of the interest of our nation at the
present time.

In our preceding vol. II., p. 113, we have a note to the effect that
there is much doubt upon the subject whether faith ought to be drilled
into the minds of our youth prior to an acquisition of, or the power of
using, their reasoning faculty, and we remarked that the question is far
too extended to be treated in a casual note.

The matter was shortly afterwards discussed in parliament, but not one
of the orators ventured to touch upon the point involved. If we ask
ourselves "the reason why," it is probable that the answer would
run--because all the interlocutors did not venture to be honest; by
which I mean, did not wish to utter, in distinct language, the
opinions that they held, and the end which they sought. There are
some legislators who regard moral cowardice as a virtue, and political
dishonesty as a desirable kingcraft.

If an observer of the parliamentary debates, to which we refer, was also
a diligent and thoughtful reader of orations made in country towns and
metropolitan districts, by preachers and teachers of all our various
religious denominations, he would readily come to the conclusion that
there was something underlying every speech, which was never allowed to
come to the surface--a something which each was perfectly cognizant of,
but which it would be unmannerly to name, or even to hint at strongly.
It is not, in public meetings, or in parliament, permitted to any
speaker to accuse an adversary of falsehood or dishonesty.

Yet, what an orator may not judiciously say of particular individuals,
a writer may assert of a class, or of a single person, if he is a
representative of a body. I may, for example, accuse the Pope of
dishonesty in misrepresenting certain well-known facts. I may equally
charge controversial writers with fraud, when they falsify the words or
arguments of an opponent. Whoever frames such an indictment is, however,
bound to take into consideration the possibility of there being an
unintentional error. It may, for example, be true that Popes never see
newspapers which tell the truth, and that divines may quote without
ever reading the book which they profess to criticise. In both cases
the critic acquits them of malice, but only to convict them of culpable

When we investigate how this bears upon education, we ask ourselves--"Do
we, as historians, or in our capacity of reading men, know that the
pretensions of the Church of Rome are founded upon, or are bolstered
up by, assertions which every learned man knows, or ought to know, are
unworthy of belief?"

To be more particular, let us propound the question--Does any Papal
hierarch believe that Francis of Assisi received certain bodily marks on
his hands and feet direct from Jesus? or that any portion of the blood
of a man has been preserved for ages in the Cathedral of Naples, as
having once belonged to a person who is called by the same name as
the first month in our year? We might readily increase our queries by
remarking about St. Dennis, St. George, St Fou-tin, and a variety of
others who appear in the Roman heaven. Our purpose, however, will be
answered if we ask, whether the thoughtful amongst us do not object to
the Papal faith, because those who proclaim it are not to be trusted?

If we listen to energetic Protestant divines, we hear much of "lying
wonders," wrought by Antichrist, which are calculated even to deceive
the very elect. These men frequently quote such passages as the
following:--"Trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of the
Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, are these" (Jer.
vii. 4); "They have committed villany in Israel, and have spoken lying
words in my name, which I have not commanded them" (Jer. xxix. 23);
"Have ye not spoken a lying divination," &c. (Ezek. xiii. 7, 8, 9); "Then
shall that Wicked be revealed, whose coming is with lying wonders, and
with all deceivableness of unrighteousness; and for this cause God shall
send them strong delusions, that they should believe a lie," &c. (2
Thess. ii. 8-12). Indeed, the main objection to the Roman Church, amongst
all those who are acquainted with its secret history, is that it is
founded, and still exists, upon a foundation of fraud.

There are many who consider that the Churches of England and of Scotland
have not a better basis; but both have so many friends in Great
Britain, that the sins of neither are closely examined, except by their

Each sectarian is fully alive to the want of good faith shown by every
other division of the Church of Christ; and not only so, but we have
seen, in our own times, a ruler in Siam who knows about them too (see
_Wheel of the Law_, by H. Alabaster; Triibner & Co., London, 1871), and
is perfectly alive to the fact that we deceive ourselves.

It is a part of human nature that each individual has a propensity to
deceive himself or herself. A child, who has been told that Old Bogy
lives in a certain cupboard, will not go and look therein; a man who
adores a lovely wife will not believe in her frailty; and a fond woman
will not credit even her father, when he tells her that her admirer is a
worthless scoundrel.

We grant this readily, but we add the proviso, that we only allow
ourselves to be deceived by our own friends. It would be, to all of us,
a frightful infliction if our sons or daughters were to tell us that
we were under strong delusions, and believing in lies. Consequently,
everyone desires that his family shall have a similar faith with his

At the present time, however, more conspicuously than at any other since
printing was invented, there is, in society, a vast number of men who
believe, from their critical inquiries, that all religionists trust
in lying vanities which do not profit. These individuals have become
sceptics, in consequence of education having led them to think for
themselves. Being opposed to all, they are friendly with none; and
although they are not aggressive, as a rule, they are vigorously
attacked by every sect which steadily refuses to come to the light.

Under these circumstances every hierarch argues: "The education which
frees the mind from all the shackles of superstition is prejudicial to
us, who earn our living hy making fetters, fixing them, and relaxing
them when duly paid to do so. A sound teaching--a style of instruction
that will induce the rising generation to examine into our pretensions
will cut the ground from under our feet. We must, therefore, endeavour
to limit, in some considerable degree, our tuition." Like the Jesuits in
Austria and of to-day, they will cram the memory, but not exercise
the understanding; they will crowd the mind with lying statements,
and prohibit all inquiry. Sectarians, therefore, as a rule, object to
education, unless it has a religious element in it. They agree in this
point, but differ as to the style of faith which is to be taught Hence
all the difference of opinion, for as the sectarians cannot decide upon
what faith is to be taught, they object to all instruction whatever. Are
they honest?

If, instead of nursing a private idea, each legislator were boldly to
say what he desired to obtain and to avoid, there might be some chance
of united action. But when all pretend to work in common, yet not one is
absolutely in earnest, and all, more or less, play at "make believe," no
valuable end will be obtained.

One politician, whose memory is tenacious, and his temerity great,
cannot bear the idea that the British mind should approximate to that of
the Germans; and, whilst he eulogizes education, he denounces Strauss.
Not because the latter is not a man of profound learning, but because
the cultivation of his intellect has led him to certain conclusions
which are distasteful to an English politician. This is not honesty.

Again, our bishops and the priesthood generally say, "Education is a
desirable thing; it is wrong for man, who has a soul to be saved, not
to seek out the way of salvation." But if, in the course of inquiry, a
scholar imagines that their way is incorrect, he is anathematized, and
his fellows are instructed to believe that no one can find comfort for
the soul except in the way patronized by the Church. This, again, is
not honest. But--and the word is of mighty import--if, instead of saying
this distinctly, a few individuals of high standing in the Protestant
community deliberately, and with the intention to deceive--or to retain
people in the bonds which astute predecessors have thrown around the
laity, state, as their belief, that which their critical knowledge tells
them is untrue, or withhold knowledge of importance, because they deem
its publication detrimental to ecclesiastical institutions, they are not
simply dishonest--they are culpable, and guilty of spiritual murder.

My meaning may be illustrated by one or two pertinent anecdotes: The
captain of a man-of-war was doubtful of the existence of a rock laid
down upon a chart. One day at dinner he announced to his company the
disbelief which he had, adding, that if the spot were truly described,
the ship would strike directly. It did so, and few survivors were left
to tell the tale. The commander judiciously elected to perish with his
vessel. Had he told his officers, and the distinguished passengers whom
he was carrying, what he was doing, it is certain that the danger would
have been avoided.

Another ship captain was addressed by a civilian who was on board,
and told that a hurricane was approaching, which might be avoided by
steering in a certain direction; but, metaphorically speaking, the
bishop would not listen to the layman. The typhoon came, the vessel was
partially dismasted; then the passenger was consulted, and by his aid
the ship got out of the danger.

The civilian was well read, not in ancient books, but in modern science;
the master mariner knew only his log-book, compass, and "the rule of

A person who loses his ship because he is too stupid to believe a chart,
or the rules of a science, which every scholar may test, deserves the
name of an imbecile, and our Board of Trade would deprive him of the
power to do any more mischief as a captain; but bishops and priests may
pilot their vessel wrongly, for none have any jurisdiction over them,
provided always that they steer in the old channels. It matters not
how far the way may be shifted, all is supposed to be right, if the old
landmarks are still used.

To make our meaning still more clear, let us imagine ourselves a
nation of mariners, and of ocean-travellers. We go to school, and learn
astronomy, trigonometry, geography, physics, and the like; yet, when
we are at sea in any ship whatever, we must neglect our knowledge, and
trust implicitly to the captain of our ship. We know that we are, in
reality, going southwards, when our proper destination lies to the
north: for us it is easy to read the stars, and thus to test both the
chronometer and the compass; must we, then, be quiet because we have
embarked in a vessel belonging to a certain "line," which is commanded
by a master appointed by the "firm" or "company" to which the barque
belongs. What is the value of education unless it enables us, when
necessary, to find whether we are in the right way or not?

Let us, still further, suppose that we remonstrate with the captain, and
that he, in place of arguing the matter fairly, endeavours to override
our objections by quoting from ancient geographers, to demonstrate that
what we believe to be the wrong is, in reality, the only true way to go;
we may be silenced, probably until we accidently discover in the ship's
library, a dissertation proving that the old traveller's charts are
worthless. When we find out that, what will be our opinion of the
captain? Can we believe him to be honest?

If we now were to remonstrate with our naval dictator, and he were to
rejoin--"My worthy brothers, I know that you are right, and that I
have been wrong. I have, indeed, known it from the time I began to
be commander, but my living depends upon my belief in old charts and
ancient compasses. I dare not change my plan, for my masters would
dismiss me. They know--at least I feel convinced that they are aware,
that the old sailing directions are wrong; but they have not the courage
to say so, or to alter them--and if I do so, they will cashier me."

Is the "firm" or "company" honest? and if we are to mete out degrees of
culpability, to whom must the severest punishment be awarded? Surely,
in the case of the Church of England, to her Bishops, who, knowing, as
scholars, that their compass and charts are incorrect, yet oblige those
under their command to steer by them--thus compelling the men who ought
to be standard-bearers in the forefront of intellectual work, either to
be silent, or to fight at a disadvantage.

It is the knowledge of the duplicity of a vast number of intelligent
divines, which has induced laymen to take the business of education out
of the hands of the clergy as a body. The Protestant believes that a
Jesuit will not teach correct history; the Romanist feels certain
that, even in biography, evangelical narratives cannot be trusted; and
Nonconformists generally feel that they cannot rely upon the instruction
given by those of a different sect.

It is desirable to sketch, if possible, what would be the condition of
society if, in the place of the clergy, there was a set of men trained
to the office of instructor, and that all individuals in the kingdom
were compelled to attend school for a definite period in their youth. In
the first place, nothing would be taught which is not known to be true.
After having mastered the rudiments of knowledge, the art of reading,
writing, and ciphering, the students would be taught to train their
minds in drawing inferences from facts, and the art of passing from
imperfect knowledge to certainty. They would be schooled into habits of
exactness, and the necessity for careful inquiry before they believed an
assertion to have the same power as a fact Those whose inclination led
them to study one or more of the arts or sciences, drawing, painting,
sculpture, designing, weaving, chemistry, engineering, building, and
a host of others, would learn that in every one of them knowledge and
precision are required to ensure success.

When the instructor found that his pupils were sufficiently trained to
the exercise of reasoning, he would then proceed to explain the ideas
which have been entertained by various people about the existence of
beings, other than those which can be recognized by the senses. He would
lead his class through the geological history of our planet, and point
out the sequence of events from the latest formation, to the primary
rocks; on his way he would linger on the nature of ancient plants and
animals; from our earth he would lead them to a study of the stars, and
then point out how very natural is the opinion that all the universe had
a designer.

Then, after giving a history of the belief in ancient times, he
would gradually descend to our own. He would critically examine the
pretensions of any person who had, in former ages, asserted, or who
proclaimed now, that he or she knew all about this presumed Creator, and
was charged to communicate that knowledge to mankind. After
explaining the critical test by which such an assumed mission might be
examined--viz., by accurate knowledge of the earth and of mankind, he
would apply this trial to all known pretenders to inspiration.

As a result, his pupils might prefer one to another, or refuse
to believe in all which have hitherto appeared. In any case, each
individual would enter upon the form of faith which he selected with
full knowledge of the facts in favour of it. He would, therefore, be
a disciple worth having. If, on the other hand, he disbelieved all
pretenders to inspiration, his condition would be the result of
deliberate reasoning upon ascertained facts, and not built, as
all religion now is, upon parrot lore, taught in childhood, ere
thoughtfulness has begun to grow.

Assuming that men were thus trained by honest and able instructors,
all those people who live upon the weaknesses and the ignorance of the
multitude would cease their endeavours to prey upon mankind, and to get
a living by playing upon the fears which so many persons have of the
unknown. There would then be no religious wars or contests--no popes,
prelates, priests, nor deacons. Quackery of all kinds would cease, and
statesmen would all agree in endeavouring to procure for mankind the
greatest amount of available happiness. This would be the result of
honesty. But from such a picture many men absolutely recoil As the
effect of training has been to make them believe that unsubstantial
things are of sovereign importance, they cannot endure the idea of man
being wholly rational; and they insist, as does the late Premier of
England, that, if scientific schooling of the mind leads men to neglect
what some call Revelation, the plan must be radically bad and worthless.
But to eulogise education and to deprecate its results is dishonest.
This political tenet or practice resembles that of many a parson, who
tells his hearers from the pulpit that they are to "take no thought for
the morrow, for the morrow will take thought for the things of itself;"
"they are not to take thought for life, for food, for raiment; nor to
lay up for themselves treasures upon earth" (Matt vi. 19, 25, 34), and on
the week-day urges them to lay by a store against the time of sickness
or old age. Such double-dealing is dishonest, and is unworthy of a
thoughtful man. If Jesus was right, why not enforce his teaching? if he
was wrong, why not say so?

Is it possible that any minister in politics, or religion, can believe
that "Honesty is the best policy," and yet act with double-dealing? Can
any person, who has power to think, believe that he will be respected
when he, on a Sunday, preaches improvidence as being taught by the
Almighty, and on a Monday proclaims that men are wicked who do not make
a provision for the future? If such people were honest with themselves,
they would soon discover that the doctrine propounded from the pulpit is
a Buddhistic one, acted upon by all the early disciples of Sakya Muni,
and in a conspicuous manner by himself. Yet, if a parson were to be
candid thus far to himself, he would probably say--"I cannot afford
to be honest in this matter openly, and I must keep this knowledge to
myself." Interest, unfortunately, determines the actions, even of our
divines, more than a rigid uprightness.

We are thus at the foundation of those causes which are in operation
to make the thoughtful laity distrustful of the clergy--it is, that
the latter are not honourable or strictly veracious--they preach
one doctrine, and act upon another. Honesty is on their lips, but
self-interest in their hearts. From the Pope to the humblest deacon,
there is a conscious reticence in every mind--an inner belief that their
pretensions are not tenable, yet an outward determination to proclaim
them at all hazards; like the silversmiths of Ephesus, they all unite in
the belief that "their craft is in danger" when the apostles of reason

Far be it from me to assert that all the clergy are dishonest in
the full meaning of the word. I believe that many of them have such
undeveloped minds, or such mean intellectual capacities, that they are
absolutely unable to think upon any subject which has not been drilled
into them when their brains were childish and ductile. Others, again,
have been schooled into the belief that "doubt" and "the devil" are
identical, and who pray to be defended from both--with them, "to
inquire" is a temptation of Satan, and so is to be manfully resisted;
others, again, say to themselves, and sometimes even to their
friends--"I know what will follow if I go into 'the evidences'--I dare
not do it, and prefer to remain in my present condition." Others, again,
say to their conscience--I am paid to expound a certain book, in a
certain way; I cannot afford to give up my position; consequently I will
neither hear of nor argue upon either the volume or the doctrine. There
are, again, some few religionists who, by constantly encouraging a blind
faith, and repressing all intellectual doubts, come at length to believe
their position impregnable, and who trust it because it is, as it
were, always kept under a glass-case. Some such I know, or have known,
personally; and have heard from their own lips how their very accurate
knowledge of the Bible has made them doubt its inspiration, and
how "they have wrestled with God in prayer"--to use their own
expression--until the temptation to distrust has been changed into a
childlike confidence. Men like these are not dishonest to the world,
they are only so to themselves.

The career of one of my acquaintances has been so striking, that
it deserves a record. The man of whom I speak was one of powerful
intellect, and of an inquiring turn of mind; but he was in holy orders,
and had schooled himself never to investigate the Bible's claim to
inspiration, or anything connected with religion. He faithfully did the
ordinary duties of a minister according to his lights; but throughout
his ministrations, in the composition and delivery of every sermon,
there was a powerful undercurrent of the mind which was constantly
saying, without using words--"You know that you are not honest." Prayer
did not subdue this mental conflict, and day by day the undercurrent
grew stronger. It was, however, resolutely opposed, and an outward
orthodoxy rigidly kept up. Of the throes of such a man, when he was
quietly alone, few but those who have felt them can have an idea. Under
their influence the brain gave way, and insanity was the reward of
a resolute determination to be orthodox against personal conviction.
Similar cases are not uncommon, when faith opposes reason.

It is very doubtful whether ordinary laymen have an adequate idea of the
extent of clerical dishonesty existing amongst us, not only in the seats
of learning, but in our towns, cities, and villages. As I have had much
correspondence and conversation with many ministers of religion, I have
formed the opinion that parsons of all denominations regard themselves
much in the same light as trade unionists and non-union men, the two
parties look upon each other as hostile. The former, who call themselves
the orthodox, keep up a sort of spy system upon those whose opinions
they fear, because they are not in the union. Such men, if they had a
chance, would not scruple to "ratten" an adversary. They judge of a man
by the books which they chance to see in his library, book-cases, or
upon his table; and, without the manliness to confront, they have the
weakness to backbite those whose mind is more robust than their own.

As a physician, I have been consulted by a Church of England minister,
who was suspected by the rest of the ministers in his town of being a
non-union man. Of strong mind, he did not preach the usual jargon which
the pulpit delights in. Irons upon _Prophecy_ and Inman's _Ancient
Faiths_ had been seen in his study, and he spoke approvingly of Colenso.
As a consequence, he was watched in the pulpit and in the street. He was
followed to the homes of poverty, and sick folk were visited, that the
nature of his ministrations might be searched out. He was visited by
persons of all classes, who, taking their cue from the New Testament,
strove to entangle him in his talk. Being married, and having a family,
and no means of subsistence, save his church living, this trade union
persecution made him miserable, and seriously injured his health. But he
was resolute not to be dishonest, and held on his way. I was, he assured
me, the only person whom he knew that could appreciate his condition,
and he was most thankful for my sympathy and advice. He left my house
already improved in health; and the feeling that he had a friend to whom
he might always apply, enabled him to bear his persecution manfully.
He still retains his position, notwithstanding all the wiles and
"picketings" of the trade unionists.

This spy system, mentioned in the above example, is associated with an
attempt to discover and apply backstairs influence--those who have
the power of making appointments in the church, the chapel, or the
meeting-house, are studied, and their opportunities to remove a
non-unionist taken advantage of by clerical "By-ends," who endeavour to
shape their judgment according to that of their patrons.

This dishonesty reacts upon itself. Men who preach habitually one set of
doctrines to a congregation, tie themselves and their understanding down
to the low level of the majority of mediocrities; and as this level has,
under such circumstances, a tendency to lower itself, the clergy have
been compelled to fall, with their patrons, far down in the intellectual
scale, and the intelligence and educational status of ministers of all
denominations sinks annually lower. The proprieties of society prevent
me from repeating what has come to my ears from the lips or pens of
distinguished clerics. It will be enough if I utter my belief that one
or more outspoken laymen will do more good to religion, and advance the
interests of society more, than all ecclesiastical unionists. In this
and the preceding volumes it has been my aim to be thoroughly honest. In
some things of small moment, such as Greek accents, Hebrew points, &c.,
it is probable I have been faulty. I will even allow, willingly, that a
more perfect Hebrew scholar than myself may esteem my etymons fanciful
and incorrect. My work having been done in the midst of constant
interruptions, I concede that, to accomplished bookworms, it must appear
disjointed. But, with all its faults, it is honest; and, being so, I
claim the right to challenge any one who chooses to enter the lists, and
encounter me honourably, to a knightly combat. I am sure that my aim has
been, and is yet, to elicit truth. To me vituperation, because I have
run foul of what are called established doctrines, has no more influence
than it had upon the prime movers of any revolution. A foul blow, such
as iniquitous misrepresentation, would probably anger me for a moment,
yet it would nerve me, in the course of a few hours, to make an
onslaught more furious than ever. With a literary rascal one cannot
observe the strict laws of knighthood, except indeed, those which govern
the relations of the noble and the varlet.

I make this challenge the more boldly, because the so-called orthodox
cannot persecute me by those meannesses which they employ against each
other. Having no ecclesiastical status, I have no penalty to dread from
frightened bishops or malignant priests. In the face of such a defiance
the clerical party must fight fairly, or slink away as cravens. One
condition, however, I must make with any one who enters the lists--viz.,
that any misrepresentation, such as that made about Bishop Colenso by
Dr Browne of the See of Winchester, shall be regarded as _ipso facto_--a
signal of defeat.

To return to the idea which is enunciated at the early part of this
essay, let us contemplate what would be, or rather, what ought to be,
the duty of an honest man, whose aim is to defend the faith which he
professes, and to prove that the book which he reveres is deserving of
his confidence.

It is probable that, if a merchant had in his possession a bill,
or promissory note, which some person had examined carefully, and
pronounced to be a forgery, he would never think of parading it before
his customers as a valid "asset." Yet, as I write the sentence, memory
recalls to my mind that traders have done this very thing, and have
counted what they ought to have known were bad debts, or fraudulent
bills of exchange, amongst their securities for money; and that, when
the parties so acting have become bankrupt, their proceedings have been
severely punished by the authorities, as being dishonest and fraudulent.

The analogy is an useful one, inasmuch as it enables me to ask the
question--"Ought the morality of a 'divine' to be inferior to that
practised by a merchant or banker?" Still further, let us inquire
whether we should have a high opinion of a trader, who endeavoured
to palm off upon us, as a genuine diamond, an article which had been
publicly declared to be a bit of "paste," and whether we should be
satisfied with his excuse--"I believe everything is a gem that goes by
the name of a precious stone."

In the course of this and our preceding volumes we have, as plainly as
words could express our meaning, enunciated our conclusions upon certain
Biblical difficulties. We have, at least, endeavoured to be honest; we
have not misrepresented those with whose opinions we differ, nor have
we tried to shirk any question, however difficult it may have been. We
claim a corresponding degree of honesty from those who profess to be
authorised guides--and certainly are in the position at present of
national leaders in religion.

We are not like an unfortunate clerk in "holy orders," who can be
silenced by law. We are, on the contrary, a stranger knight who comes to
a tourney, and claims the right to combat with the most redoubtable of
the champions of their court and kingdom. Still further, we assume the
power to write those down as cowards who, upon any pretence whatever,
decline to compete in the lists with us.

In the days of chivalry there was not a knight who would not have been
regarded as "craven," if he declined a combat because his challenger
did not speak or write French correctly, or had a speck of rust on his
armour, a dint in his shield, or a hole in his breastplate. Yet, in
these degenerate days, we see that poltroons refuse to entertain the
arguments of a writer who, from any cause whatever, appears to be
inaccurate in Hebrew points, or consonants, or Greek accents, or
transliteration. For ourselves, we regard every excuse which is framed
to avoid meeting a fairly stated argument as a proof of weakness, and
when it is uttered by a professional champion, as an act of cowardice.
When such champions are paid by a state to uphold the honour of their
country, to avoid a challenge by evasion is dishonesty. There was,
however, in knightly days, some established law of chivalry that no
champion need fight a "squire" or "varlet;" but, on the other hand, no
nobleman could refuse to enter the lists on the plea that his challenger
had a different faith to his own. Combats between Christians and Paynim
were common. Consequently, we cannot regard a bishop justified in
declining a fair challenge, because he is invited to enter the lists by
an "Infidel."

Considering myself as an university graduate and an English gentleman,
entitled to give a literary challenge, I make no scruple to enter the
lists, and invite champions to break a lance with me in favour of their
patron saint or lady.

I assert that their tutelary saints--Adam, Abraham, David, Moses,
Solomon, and the prophets, are imaginary beings, or, where real, were
not as worthy as they are supposed to have been. I defy scholars to
prove that the Israelites were ever, as a body, in Egypt; that they
were delivered therefrom by Moses; that the people wandered during forty
years in "the desert;" received a code of laws from Jehovah on Sinai;
and were, in any sense whatever of the words, "the chosen people of

I assert that the whole history of the Old Testament is untrue, with the
exception of a few parts which tell of unimportant events--e.g., it is
probable that the Jews fought with their neighbours, as the Swiss have
done in modern days--but I do not believe the tale about Samson any more
than that of William Tell.

I assert that there is not a single true prophecy in the whole Bible,
which can be proved to have been written before the event to which it
is assumed to point, or which is superior, in any way, to the "oracles"
delivered in various ancient lands.

I assert that the whole of what, is called the Mosaic law had
no existence in the days of David, Solomon, and the early Hebrew
chieftains--or kings--if they are thought to deserve the title.

Here there is no room for evasion--the issue is clear; the cause to be
adjudged by combat is unmistakable. As the weapons on both sides
must necessarily be literary--the pen, and not lance or spear, it is
advisable to say a few words thereupon. In argument I do not recognize
that style of logic which considers that the words "it may be" are equal
to "it is."

I am induced to make this remark, because in theological works, the two
forms are constantly used as if they were identical. Many years ago, a
near relative, staying in my house, was preparing for ordination in the
Church of England, and amongst other hooks, had a certain work of the
late Cardinal Wiseman, for perusal--with the intention of collecting
materials for refuting it. He told me that the Papal Archbishop was too
strong for him, and requested my aid. As a result, I became familiar,
not only with many dogmatic writings of the Roman, but also of the
Anglican, Church. All of them had, in my estimation, the same logical
fault. Their authors imagined that any given point is proved when it
can be shown that the occurrence in question _may_ have happened. At
a subsequent period I discovered that this was the prevalent argument
amongst writers in my own profession. It has, indeed, been supposed
generally, that success in proving an opponent to be wrong, is the same
as demonstrating your own propositions to be right.

The writers in the _Speaker's Commentary_ upon the Bible have not
advanced beyond this. A thousand such commonplaces as fill its pages,
are worthless to the philosophical inquirer, and I no more regard them,
than a knight would a targe and lance made of barley-sugar.

My challenge, however, is not confined to the subject of the Old
Testament; I affirm that the New Testament is equally untrue--although
not to the same degree. Yet, as in the latter, there are not so many
asserted facts, there cannot be so many points for cavil. To be more
specific: I assert that the history of Jesus was framed upon that of
Sakya Muni, and very probably at Alexandria, long after the death of
the son of Mary. I do not deny the existence of Jesus; but I assert that
every miracle which is told respecting him--and the narrative of his
miraculous conception, and of the marvels occurring at his birth, have
no foundation in fact.

It is unnecessary to repeat what I have already said upon such points as
"original sin," "the fall of man," and "the need of a Saviour."

In what I now say or write, I am perfectly honest. I have not been paid
to preach a certain doctrine, whether my understanding assents to it
or not I affirm, moreover, that the comfort in which I live, is wholly
unbroken by any fears for the future; and that I look back upon the
period when my days and nights were made wretched by superstition, and
rejoice that I am emancipated from the shackles of Ecclesiastics. "The
Church," and every sect of it, which is known in Christendom, is, in my
opinion, unfit to be trusted by thoughtful human beings. Its votaries
are only happy in proportion to their power of forgetting its doctrines,
or explaining them away. Yet all, as I said in the first chapter of
my second volume, agree "to make believe," and by dint of persistently
doing so, end in persuading themselves that they are clothed with lovely
garments--which have no existence, save in the opinion of the wearer.

My whole life has been passed amongst religionists of more or less
piety. I have known them in public and in private, in their connection
with the world, and their relations with wife, children, and servants. I
am also familiar with some who are avowed free-thinkers. As an impartial
judge, and certainly having the desire to be an honest one, I declare
that the so-called irreligion or infidelity of the latter makes them
better citizens of the world, better fathers of a family, and
better priests to those who are struggling with misfortune, than the
religion--orthodox or non-conformist--of the former induces them to

If there were in reality, as there was once in fable, a domain in which
every one was constrained to speak the truth; and if, still farther, one
could carry thereto every religionist, and inquire into his belief, I
feel sure that those whom the professed Christians affect to despise as
infidels, would be the only ones who would be found faithful in private,
to the principles which they profess in public. If, for an example,
the question were put to both "What is honesty?" the answer of the
free-thinkers would be--"Doing to others, in every position of life,
that which you would wish others to do to you;" the reply of the
dogmatic would be the same, with the important addition--"Except in
matters of faith."

My readers must not imagine that I am hasty or unscrupulous in what is
passing from my mind to my pen. There never was a time in which I
have felt more deeply that my duty, as an independent man, is to speak
plainly. On the other hand, there is not one single religionist of my
acquaintance, to whom the words--"Ye know not what manner of spirit ye
are of" (Luke ix. 55)--do not apply.

On the shelves of my library are books written by almost all classes of
authors, and in many different languages. It has been a self-enforced
duty to compare their contents, and to endeavour, still further, to
elicit from those who are not writers, information which may assist me
in forming a correct idea upon any particular point. Up to the present
time I have not found one single work, which has relation to the
religion of opponents, and is written by a parson, thoroughly
trustworthy or honest Everyone is guilty, either of the _suppressio
veri_ or _suggestio falsi_--generally of both. A book emanating from a
priest is bad, that from a bishop is worse. Colenso, whom I regard as
the only thoroughly truthful member of the episcopal hierarchy, is the
one who is more foully treated by religionists than any other minister
has ever been--"Tis true, 'tis pity, and pity 'tis, 'tis true."

We may be pardoned, if we close this chapter by the expression of our
views as to the religion which will prevail when men have thought as
much upon their future life as upon their present, and are honest with

1. They will try to form some distinct idea of what would be to them
a heaven; but, as they will be wholly unsuccessful, they will cease to
speculate upon it.

2. They will cease to fear a hell, knowing that, if there be any
immortal part of man, it must be immaterial; they will not believe that
it can be tormented by material fires, forks, and furies.

3. They will cease to pay any attention to men who call themselves
prophets, divine messengers, or vicars of God on earth, whether they use
lying wonders or not.

4. Instead of constantly cogitating how much they can sin against, and
yet get pardon from, some unknown deity, they will recognize the laws
of nature for their guide, and live in communities as their reason
dictates. The future will be left wholly in the power of the Creator.

5. There will be no belief in a trinity, in a virgin mother of God, in
intercessors of any kind whatever between human beings and the invisible
God; each man and woman will be independent and alone in the presence of
the Supreme.

6. Man will no longer try to usurp the place of God, and persecute his
fellow mortal on religious grounds.

7. There will be no priests or ministers of religion; but there will be
instructors in science, in the laws of life, and moral order; there will
be magistrates to enforce social propriety, and establishments where the
insane and the criminal can be secluded.

8. There will be no strife about religion, for each will attend to his
own personal concerns.

9. The laws of nature will be studied as regards marriage and family;
the infected will not be allowed to perpetuate a feeble race, nor the
diseased infant be pampered, that it may live to a sickly and useless

     * We may add, that there will then be neither silly women
     nor crotchety men, who will encourage free trade in
     fornication, and the diffusion of loathsome diseases, and
     endeavour to promote unnecessary suffering by their
     opposition to the methods of avoidance.

10. No law will be made but that which is drawn from a study of the ways
of the Creator, and the proper requirements of His creatures.

11. Every pretender to revelation, or inspiration, will be incarcerated
as a rogue or a lunatic.

12. The aim of all will be individual and general comfort, and as much
happiness as is compatible with humanity.

When each does to others as he would be done by, the millennium, so much
talked of, will have come.


27th March, 1875.

Dear Dr Inman,

At pp. 11 and 81 of your new volume, the proof-sheets of which you were
good enough to show me, you intimate that an earlier origin can be found
for all Hebrew feasts and observances excepting the Sabbath. It would
appear, from discoveries made and works published since you began to
write, that you need not make even this exception. There are, I think,
plain indications of a Sabbath among the Egyptians, and proofs of its
observance by the Assyrians.

Dr G. G. Zerffi, in a note appended to Mr Tyssen's _Origin of the Week_*
says--"Judging from the Egyptian mythology, we are justified in assuming
that they had some correct notions of the division of time. Their eight
gods of the first order point to an incarnation of the cosmical forces,
or the planetary system. The twelve gods of the second order undoubtedly
presided over the twelve months of the year; whilst the seven gods of
the third order were to watch over the seven days of the week..... The
Teutons have inherited the division, not only of the week in seven
days, but also the names by which these days are called, from the
Indians....." (Bohlen's _Das alte Indien_; _Toth_, by Dr Uhlemann;
and Bunsen's _Egypt's Place in History_; Tacitus, Suidas, Pliny, and

     * The Origin of the Week Explained, by A. D. Tyasen, B.C.L.,
     M.A.; Williams & Noigate, 1875.

These, perhaps, are only what I have called them, indications of a
Sabbath, since it is conceivable that a week of seven days might exist
without one day being more sacred than another. A plainer indication may
be found in the Hymn to Amen-Ka, which exists upon a hieratic papyrus,
judged to be of the fourteenth century, B.C., and purporting to be only
a copy of an earlier writing. I quote four lines, and call attention to
the fourth:--

     O! Ra adored in Aptu [Thebes]:
     High-crowned in the house of the obelisk [Heliopolis]:
     King (Ani) Lord of the New-moon festival:
     To whom the sixth and seventh days are sacred.*

When we leave Egypt for Assyria, we pass from indication to proof. At p.
12 of George Smith's _Assyrian Discoveries_,** the author says--"In the
year 1869 I discovered, among other things, a curious religious calendar
of the Assyrians, in which every month is divided into four weeks, and
the seventh days, or 'Sabbaths' are marked out as days on which no work
should be undertaken." More precise information as to these Sabbath-days
is given by Rev. A. H Sayce, M.A., in _Records of the Past_, vol. I., p.
164, where the following words occur:--"The Babylonian year was divided
into twelve months of thirty days each, with an intercalary month every
six years.... According to the lunar division, the seventh, fourteenth,
nineteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-eighth days were days of 'rest' on
which certain works were forbidden."

     * Translated by C. W. Goodwin, M.A., in Records of the Past,
     vol. II Bagster & Sons.

     ** Sampson Low, & Co., 1875.

The Assyrian legends tell of seven evil spirits who rebelled against
the gods; of the goddess Ishtar descending to Hades, and passing through
seven gates; of a deluge, the duration of which was seven days, &c., &c.
Mr H. F. Talbot, F.R.S., speaks of the great degree of holiness which
the Assyrians attributed to the number seven, and where that number was
sacred, the seventh day could scarcely escape special honours. _Why_ the
number seven was sacred, or whether the Babylonian Sabbath was at first
any more than an unlucky day, like the sailor's Friday, when it was
sowing for the whirlwind to begin any enterprise, are other questions.

I am, yours faithfully,


These observations of Mr St Clair deserve attention, for they show that,
from an ancient period, a sixth and seventh day were holy in Egypt,
although we cannot discover from the context whether they were reckoned
after the first day of a year, a month, or a week. But this is of
small importance, as I do not find evidence that the Jews borrowed any
Egyptian ideas, even if they ever knew any. It is far more important to
know, that in the Assyrian calendar the seventh, fourteenth, nineteenth,
twenty-first, and twenty-eighth days of the month were days of "rest,"
for all Biblical testimony points to the adoption of the Jewish Sabbath
in the time of the second Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel--i.e., not very
long after the Assyrians made their power felt in Palestine. When we
consider the propensity which the Hebrews had to copy parts of the
religion of those who conquered them, it is highly probable that some
astute priest of the Jews adopted the idea of consecrating a seventh
day, as their Mesopotamian adversaries had done, to the most high
god Saturn; and as it was desirable to have some pretence for the
introduction of the Sabbath, it was natural that it should be put under
the same head as the new moon, and that stories should be invented, and
gradually circulated, of the vast antiquity of the new institution. It
is clear, from the Jewish history, that the Sabbath was not generally
known amongst the common people until long after the return from
Babylon. Had it been so, Ezra would not have thundered so energetically
in its favour. The same remark applies to Nehemiah. I have elsewhere
remarked that the Sabbath was unknown to David and Solomon, and may now
add that any one who will read the episode in the history of Elijah,
recorded 1 Kings xix. 7, 8, will see that this prophet could have known
nothing, and the angel who spoke to him could have known no more, of the
Mosaic Sabbath, inasmuch as the latter directs, and the former obeys,
an order which must have involved a breaking of the "rest" of at least
five, and possibly six, Sabbaths. The whole life, indeed, of Elijah
shows a perfect ignorance of this so-called Mosaic institution.

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