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moral development, they witness in their gigantic decrepitude that the fruit of exclusivism and selfishness is deterioration and disgrace. Upon the everlasting condition of the departed millions of moral agents who have lived and died in that strange home of so large a proportion of Adam's posterity, we do not even speculate.
India and Persia are the abodes of ancient religion and civilization. The revived Sanskrit literature is disclosing the interesting antecedents of the Aryan family; and proving that prior to Brahminism and mythism there existed a nobler and purer faith. Traditions, analogous to the Semitic, are conspicuous in all Indian systems. But priestly craft obscured by subtle fables the early notions of the Creator and His providence. Hence, followed
ages of false philosophic development, in which no fancy was too absurd, no falsehood too great, no conception of the supernatural too grotesque, to be announced or accepted. The myriads of that great continent, which is now under Christian rule, have for two thousand years
been rendering to millions of gods the service they owed to one ; have endured the ineffable tortures of Budhist asceticism, perished by the suttee or other murderous rites ; or, after a life of metaphysical pondering and sensual indulgence, have died, with the dream of annihilation, or a favourable transmigration, as their best hope. Yet, if invested with the wildest imaginings, their ideas of God and immortality still represent the faith of antiquity; and all “having a law unto themselves ” will meet with a wise and merciful judgment from Him whose dispensations are unsearchable," and His “ ways past finding out.”
Persia, in comparison with its degraded neighbours, China and India, presents a favourable religious aspect. Here, as in other cases, the fusion of races is connected with intellectual and moral change. The Japhetic tribes pastorating its upper lands were joined by the sons of Elam from the south ; and thus the simple, virtuous faith of the old Aryan people was mingled with the more dogmatic traditions of the Semitic race.
But they were exposed also to the ingress of Sabæism and Magianism from Chaldea. After adopting the worship of the heavenly bodies, and, subsequently, its symbolisms, they at length adored images, which they thought to represent those deities more vividly. The great conflict between good and evil, which has agitated, with sombre sympathy, the human mind in all ages,--of which the destroying Sceva in the Hindoo Triad, Typhon, the evil being of the Egyptians, are personifications, each owing some attributes to the serpent-spirit of tradition,--found another expression among the Persians, in Ormuzd and Ahriman, the co-eternal good and evil powers. Zoroaster, at what appears to have been a great crisis in the history of human thought, * enlightened by the Jewish records, and impressed with the deal
* "It is difficult not to connect him with that general movement of the Asiatic mind to which we have already alluded. The Budhist convulsion in Hindostan, the great Chinese reformation, and the movement in Iran, or Persia, of which we are now to speak, if not strictly contemporaneous events, may not have been separated by the distance of more than a century. That there was something common in all of them
ings of God with Cyrus, declared the supreme unity of God, rebuked the image-worship and attendant moral corruption of the people, and restored the authority of many ancient truths. It is to be lamented that this reform was not permanent, and that the Persians, in after ages, fell into the snares of Mahomet : though among the crowds of Pentecost there were “Medes and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia ;” and “the wise men of the East,” who were star-led to Jerusalem in the days of Herod, came from the Persian empire.
The history of the Greek mind is that of a great human experiment. The early people, collected from many surrounding nations, were wandering and piratic, without any common, national form of religion to influence them. They had the cosmogonies, theologies, and philosophies of the world to choose from. If consistent truth could be eliminated from human systems, they were to do it. Few theocratic traditions mixed with their own early history until poetical invention supplied them ; and even then everything was anthropomorphic. The deities were “colossal” men and women. Reason became to them what tradition, true or false, had been to earlier nations, the jus et arbiter of the higher notions. Philosophy sought from the first an åpxí, a principle of things, a base of all existence, a generalization by which the universe should be grasped in a thought, and expressed in a word. Architecture left the unwieldy vastness of Egypt and India for the limits of human probability. Their sculpture achieved the exactness and perfection of the human form. Each thinker did his best. Academic groves witnessed their long meditations ; academie halls listened to their profound utterances and earnest word-fights. Pythagoras, Plato, and others, travelled through many lands to gather the wisdom of the ancients ; Aristotle pruned with his sharp pen their efflorescent systems, and drew them into logical shape : yet Socrates asked more ques. tions than Plato could answer; the followers of Zeno and Epicurus, starting from diverse extremes, met in fatalism ; every one confessed that, grasp as they might, the truth could not be grasped, the veil over it, or over their souls, could not be severed; the shrewdest among them declared there was only one thing he knew, and that was, that he knew nothing ; and an inspired judgment, pronounced at a time better acquainted with Grecian thought and learning than our own, sums up this trial of human reason in the few and solemn words, “ The world by wisdom knew not God.”
Yet, it must be admitted, that however various and mingled, a large amount of traditional light pervaded the Greek mind, and that this was the source of their best sentiments. They were too curious about the opinions of other nations, not to be informed of the objects of their faith; and their philo
will easily be admitted. The Indian, the Chinese, the Persian reformers, alike believed that they were bringing back some old order or principle, which had been forgotten or violated, or for which some modern practices and notions had been substituted.”—Maurice’s “ Moral and Metaphysical Philosophy," chap. V., P. 2. See also “ Christ and other Masters,” part i., chap. i.
sophers are continually referring to ancient sayings and traditions. Probably they were much more indebted to Jewish literature than is commonly allowed.* Until Egyptian polytheism and image-worship were introduced, the Greeks had no systematized idolatry ; and even the “Mysteries” retained some higher truths and virtuous precepts for the initiated. It would be pleasant to believe that in these secret institutions the doctrine of the Divine unity was clearly taught, and the human origin of the popular deities distinctly disclosed; but this view cannot be maintained. If in the beginning they served the purposes of truth and virtue, “they gave way to the prevailing spirit which imbued the whole idolatrous systems, until at length, as Cicero says, the mysteries became synonymous with abominations." +
May we not, then, conclude that there was a sufficient revelation entrusted to man at the beginning of his career; and that subsequent error and ignorance were not owing to the scantiness of the provision made by Heaven to meet the intellectual and spiritual wants of humanity, but to man's reckless disregard of the splendid endowments he had received, and to his foolish, depraved preference for "cunningly devised fables?” The dreary moral darkness, the soul-deadening errors, the degrading superstitions of heathenism, are not to be traced to a supposed indifference or caprice in the Divine Being, but to the treacherous willingness of the “evil heart of anbelief, in departing from the living God.” An inspired hand has traced some of the deeds and rewards of faith ; (Heb. xi. ;) but what a tragic scroll is filling with the confusion and curse brought upon man by unbelief! A myriad souls in every age have fallen, under its guidance, from the hope of salvation; and imagination falters to conjecture how many victims shall perish when“ he that believeth not shall be damned.”
(To be continued.)
On leaving Nâbulus for Jerusalem, we went along the eastern end of the valley lying between Ebal and Gerizim, and passed by Jacob's Well into the fine open plain in which was the“ parcel of ground” that Jacob bought at the hand of the children of Hamor. Our course lay through the southern portion of this extensive plain, which in this direction stretches to a con
* See Gale, i., 10. How many precious truths and facts of early tradition or Jewish revelation were wrapped up in the fables and myths of Chaldea and Egypt, Phenicia and Greece, it is impossible now to discover. The priests of error, while filching from the truth, took care to obliterate their footmarks, lest detection should bring disgrace ; Or, like modern burglars, they melted away the original forms of the stolen and precious material.
+ Smith's “ Gentile Nations," vol. i., p. 42,
siderable distance, so that it took us some time to traverse it. Our journey, however, (unlike that between Nazareth and Jenîn,) was not all plain travelling : during our ride we had some rough, stony ground to get over in several places, and rugged hills to surmount. The hills arrested our attention by their desolate appearance ; while the valleys, on the other hand, claimed notice on account of their fine even surface, and for the marks of cultivation which some of them displayed. The solitude which reigns throughout most of these hills and valleys is also very striking. For miles and miles there is no appearance of life except the occasional goatherd on the hill-side, or gathering of women at the wells. Palestine, as most readers know, is a very mountainous country; and this portion of it through which we were travelling, afforded abundant evidence of the fact. Hill after hill
, or, rather, mountain after mountain, we had to ascend and descend, as we proceeded on our journey. Many of these mountain-tops, from the rotundity of their shape, present a great uniformity in their aspect, as I frequently had occasion to observe ; they do not rise into peaks, but their summits are rounded off in a singular manner. But there are plains also and valleys to be seen spreading themselves between these mountains and hills : " it is a land of hills and valleys.” (Deut. xi. 11.) The valleys, too, show some interesting features. The retirement and shelter they afford, as they repose beneath the mountain sides, and the deep, rich soil underlying them, much of it probably having been swept off long since from the mountains by the winds of heaven, are characteristics belonging to them, which no observant traveller will overlook ; and if they were but sufficiently irrigated and cultivated, -if, indeed, the land were again what it once was, “a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills," -how fruitful, and how goodly and pleasant a land, by the blessing of God, might the country again become! Under the sway of the Canaanites, amidst all their wickedness, it brought forth in such abundance, that the spies sent forward by Moses were constrained at their return to say concerning it, “ It is a good land which the Lord our God doth give us.” (Deut. i. 25.) " For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land......a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates ; a land of oil olive, and honey.” (Deut. viii. 7, 8.) But it is no longer what it once was, "the glory of all lands,” in this respect, —
“A land of corn, and wine, and oil,
With ev'ry blessing blest.” A blight, physical as well as moral, now rests upon it for the wickedness of them that dwelt therein. It would be unjust, therefore, to estimate its former capabilities from its present appearance, as it is now under the curse of God, and its general barrenness is in full accordance with prophetic denunciation. The Israelite in our street, whose appearance was delineated with graphic precision by Moses more than three thousand years ago, is not a surer evidence of the inspiration of the Bible, than the land as it now
exists; and the predictions concerning it have been so literally fulfilled, that they may now be used as actual history.* (See Lev. xxvi.; Isai.xxiv.,xxxii.; Jer. iv. 26, 27.) There are prophecies, however, of another description, which promise brighter and happier days to this desolate and afflicted land, and her despised and wandering sons. “And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations.” (Isai. Ixi. 4.) “Ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel ;......and I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel, even all of it : and the cities shall be inhabited......For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land.” (Ezek. xxxvi. 8, 10, 24.) “And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them.” (Amos ix. 14, 15.)
We arrived at El-Bîreh about sunset, after a ride of nearly seven hours from leaving Nâbulus. The place stands on an eminence. We stopped to let our horses drink, at a beautiful and copious fountain, just west of the village, one of the finest to be seen in the country; and it is from this doubtless that the place derives its name, which, as well as the ancient name, Beer, signifies “a well.” The present village lies a little to the north-east of the well. We halted for the night at a hut of somewhat larger dimensions than the one we occupied at Jenîn ; but, like the one at that place, it was miserably dirty, and equally destitute of a bed. The population of ElBireh consists almost wholly of Mohammedans ; there are a few Christians; and the remains of a church of Saracenic architecture show that the Crusaders had at one time established themselves at this place. The people under whose roof I lodged were Christians, in name at least. Here, fortunately, I met with a young man, a relative of theirs, who spoke English, and who had been educated in the bishop's school at Jerusalem. The people themselves understanding only Arabic, I was glad to avail myself, as might be supposed, of his company. The young man's Christian name (though more like a Jewish than a Christian one) was Jacob Moses. During the evening, at my request, he read to me the third chapter of St. John's Gospel, with comparatively little difficulty, and acquitted himself, on the whole, very creditably with his lesson. I rose, at one time during the night, from my hard resting-place in the hovel, which was more like a dungeon than a human habitation, and went outside, that I might breathe the open air. It was beautifully clear and moonlight, and even at that late hour I heard very distinctly the sound of the mill-stones in the adjoining hut, and the voice of a woman singing in a monotonous and melancholy strain, as she turned the mill. There was no music in the tones of her voice; but it was