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Fortfffn Member & the French Institute, ttc. 
ISTew 'Edition. 








Lecture I 

Lecture II * 

Lecture HI 52 

Lecture IV 8 3 



The Emperor AH>ar 

The Languages of Africa . . 2 9 

Tedic Literature .... 2 3 6 

Polynesian Mytholog7 . . . z ^ 

The Chinese name for God . * 24 

Mythology of the Hottentots , , 

The Sacred Books of the East . 2>?6 

Index 2 ^ 8 


THESE Lectur&, intended as an introduction to a 
comparative study of the principal religions of the 
worid 4 were delivered at the Boyal Institution in 
London, in February tod March 1870, and printed 
in Fraser's Magazine of February, March, April, and 
May of the same year. I declined at that time to 
publish them in a s'Sparate form, hoping that I might 
find leisure n to wOrk up more fully the materials 
whicify I had collected for many years. I thought 
that I should thus be enabled to make these lectures 
more instructive and more complete, and at the same 
time meet several objections that had been raised by 
some critics against the very possibility of a scientific 
study of religions, and against the "views which I 
ventured to put forward on the origin, the growth, 
and the real yalue of the ancient systems ol faith, 
elaborated by different branches of the human mee. 
A small edition only of these 'lectures wad printed 
privately, and sent to some of my frienda, whose 
remarks 4iave proved in man$ cases most valuable 
and instructive. 

If now I have decKled oa. republishing these Lec- 
tures, I have done so because I fear that as during 
the three years that have elapsed since their delivery, 


so again during the years to come I shall find " little 
lefeure fo* thesu researches* * I have just finished a 
new -edition of the test of the Kig-veda, ami I now 
feef^ bound to print* the lasi* vdlurae of iffy large 
edition of the Big-vda witB the commentary of 
S&yarza, When tha* is done, Ihe translation of the 
hymrta of the Big-veda, of wlfich \he first volume 
was published in 1869, mil h&ve te be continued, 
and I see but little chance tnat, with these .tasks 
before me, I shall be able to devote much time to my 
favourite study- of ancient language, mythology, and 

I should gladly have left these Lectures to their 
ephemeral fate; but as they hav8 beeiurepublished 
in America, and translated in France and Italy /they 
have become the subject of friendly and unfriendly 
remarks in several works on Comparative Theology. 
A German translation also being on the eve of pub- j 
lication, I at last determined to publish them in their 
original form, find to rendej them at least as perfect 
as I could at the present moment. The Lectures 
as now printed, contain considerable portions which 
were written in 1870, but had to be left out in the 
course of delivery, and therefore also in Fraser's 
Magazine. I have inserted such corrections and sup- 
plementary notes as I had made from timfc to time 
in the course of my reading, and a few remarks were 
added at the last moment, whifet seeing these sheets 
through the Press. 
For more complete information on many 


touched upon in these Letjires, I must refar my 
reader? to my Essays w^ tfc$ Scieitfg of"Religi<m J 
and the Essays on Mythology * Traditions and .Cus- 
toms, published in 9863 nder tfie title of'Chiptf ^x>m 
a Girma|i Workshop^, 

The literature -of Cdfcaparative .-Theology is growing 
rapidly, particularly Jh Aratajea. The works of JSames 
F. Clarke, Sanwiel Johnson, O. B. Frothingham, the 
lectures of T. W. Higgbison, W. C. Gannett, and J. W. 
Chadwick, the philosophical pa$>ers by F. E. Abbot a 
all show tiiat the New World, in* spite of all its pre- 
occupations, has not ceased to feel at one with the 
Old World; all tofer witness to a deep conviction 
that the st^dy of* the ancient religions of mankind 
will ^Lot remain without momentous practical results. 
'That study, I feel convinced, if carried on in a bold, 
but scholar-like, careful, and reverent spirit, will 
remove many doubts and difficulties which are due 
entirely to the narrowness of our religious horizon; 
it will enlarge our sympathies, it ^rill raise our 
thoughts above the small controversies of the day, 
and at no dis^nt future evoke in the very heart of 
Christianity a fresh spirit, and a new life. 

OXPOED, May is, 1873* 

1 Since reputti&ed with ad&tona in 'Selected Essays,* a vols. 









Ip, 1870. 

WHEN I Undertook for the first time to deliver 
a course of lectures in this Institution, I chose 
for my subject the Sciefice of Language. What I then 
had at heart was to show to you, and to the woi'ld at 
large, that the comparative study of the principal 
languages of mankind was based on sound and truly 
scientific principles^ and that it had brought to light 
results whict deserved a larger share of public interest 
than*they had as yet received. I tried to convince 
not only scholars by profession, but historians, theo- 
logians, and philosophers, nay everybody who had 
once felt the charm of gazing inwardly upon the 
secret workings of his own mind, veiled and revealed 
as they are in the flowing folds of language, that the 
discoveries made by comparative philologists could no 
longer be ignored with impunity; and I submitted 
that after the progress achieved in a scientific study 
of the principal branches of the vast realm of human 
speech, our new science, the Science of Language, 
might claim by right its seat at the Bound-table of 
the intellectual chivalry of our ftge, 

Such was the goodness 01 the cause I haft then to 
defend that, however imperfect my own pleading, the 
verdict of the public has been immediate and almost 
unanimous. During the yeara that have elapsed since 



the deliv^ujr of my first course of lectures, the Science 
of Language has Lad its Ml share of public recog- 
nition Whether we look at the number *of books 
that have been published for tha a$vaneen*3nt and 
elucidation of our scienee 3 the excellent arti- 
cles in the daily, weekly, forfcaightly, monthly, and 
quarterly reviews, or at the fi^que^t notices of its 
results* scattered about in works on philosophy, 
theology, and ancient history, we "may well rest 
satisfied. The example set by France and Gej'rcmny 
in founding chairs of Sanskrit and Comparative Phi* 
lology, has been followed of late in nearly all tho 
universities of England, Ireland, and Scotland. We 
need not fear for the future of the Science of Language* 
A career so auspiciously begun, Jta spite of strong 
prejudices that had to be encountered, Vill lead on 
from year to year to greater triumphs. Out best 
public schools, if they have not done so already, will 
soon have to follow the example set by tho uni- 
versities* It is but fair that nchoolboyB who arc made 
to devote so many hours every day to the laborious 
acquisition of* languages, should now and thon IKS 
taken by a safe guide to efijoy from a higher point of 
view that living panorama of human speech which 
has been surveyed and carefully napped out by 
patient explorers and bold discoverers : nor is there 
any longer an excuse why, even in tho most ele- 
mentary lessons, nay I should aay, why more par- 
ticularly in theae elelnentary lessons, the*dark and 
dreary passages of Greek and Latin, of French and 
Gorman, grammar, should not Jbe brightened by the 
electric light of Comparative Philology. 
When last year I travelled in Germany I found 


that lectures on Comparative Philology Wco attended 
in the universities by nearly all who Btftdy fireek and 
Latin. At Leipzig there were Jmndreds of ntti/lents 
who crrftoded the Tecticre room of the Profi!Ms<# of 
Comparajiive Philolog/, and tfce classes of the Pro- 
fessor of Sanskrit conn&ted of more than fifty uitdi?r- 
graduates, most*x>f them wishing to acquire *thafc 
amount of knowledge *of Sanskrit which is absolutely 
necessary before entering upon a study of Com- 
paratire Grammar. 

The introduction of Greek into the imiverHiUcs of 
Europe in the fifteenth century could hardly have 
caused a greater revolution than the discovery of 
Sanskrit and the study of Comparative) Philology in 
the nineteenth. Very few indeed now take their 
degree of Master of Arts in Germany or would bo 
allowed to teach at a public nchciol, without having 
been examined in the principle** of Comparative 
Philology, nay in the elements of Sanskrit grammar, 
Why should it be different in England? Th0 in- 
tellectual fibre, I know, is not different in the youth 
of England and in the youth of Germany, and if there 
is but a fair field and no favour, Comparative* Philology, 
I feel convince^ will noon hold in Kngland too, that 
place which it ought to hold at overy public school, in 
every university, and in every classical examination * 

In beginning to-day a courae of lectures on the 

* Sinoe thi8*wuB written, CompitrMivo Ailology hftft beta admitted 
to its rightful place in the University of Oxford. In th fiiwi Pobtto 
Examination candidate* for Honour* in Grk or L*tia LiWhitaiw wtt 4 
be oxfttnined in th* elenientu <ff Comparative Philology M iliu*far*tlag 
the Greek and Latin Ungu*g, In th flnul Pnbllo 

Comp*rative Philology will form * spl*l subject, by tfaa tide rtf th 

hittory of Ancient Literature. 

B a 


e crflteliffion, or I should rather say on some 
preliminary points that have to he settled before we 
can enter upon a truly scientific study of the* religions 
of tfio world, I feel as I felt* whfcn first pleading in 
this very place for th>Bcience*of Language. 

I know that I shall have to meet determined an- 
tagonists who will deny the Tory* possibility of a 
Hcientitic treatment of religions, as formerly they 
denied the possibility of a ^cientifTe treatment of 
languages. I fores* to even far more serious conflicts 
with familiar prejudices and <loip-rooted convictions; 
but 1 feel at the same time that i am prepared to 
moot my antagonists, and I have such faith in their 
honesty and love of truth, that I doubt not of a 
patii-rifc nml impartial hearing out their part, and of 
a vonlicfc itittminctul by nothing but by* the evidence 
that I shall have to place before them, 

In these our days it i almost impossible to speak 
of ruligioa at all, without giving offunoo either on the 
right or on tin 1 , loft, With nowu, religion mutinM too 
Haeruil a subject for scientific tri*atitiunt; with others 
it stands on fi lovoi with lchotny and astrology, as a 
mere tissue of errors or haluci nations, far beneath tho 
notice of the man of science, 

In a certain sonso, I accept both tnese views, R$* 
ligion is a sacred subject, and whether in its most 
perfect or in its most imperfect fonn ( it has a right to 
our highest reverence. In this respect we might learn 
something from those whpm we are so ready to teach. 
I quote .from tho * Declaration of Principles' by which 
the church founded by Keshufe Chuader Sen professes 
to be guided, After stating that no created object 
ahali ever be worshipped, nor any man or inferior being 


or material object be treated as identical ^ijb God, or 
like unto God, or as an 'incarnation o God* and tltat 
no prayer or hymn shall be sai$ unto or In the <name 
of any one except Ood^the declaration continues : 

'No created being $r object that has been or^ay 
hereafte? be worshipp^i liy any sect shall be ridiculed 
or contemned injhe Bourse of the" divine service to be 
conducted here. 

'No book shall be acknowledged or received as the 
infallible Word of Go3 ; yet no book which has been 
or may hereafter be acknowledged by any sect to be 
infallible shall be ridiculed or contemned.' 

* No sect shall be vilified, ridiculed, or hated.* 

It might bo thought, perhaps, that these broad 
sentiments of religious toleration were borrowed by 
Keshub Chflnder Sen, or rather by the founder of 
the Brahma-Sam&j, Eammohun Boy, from Christian 
writers. That may bo so. But they need not have 
gono to Europe for these truly Christian principles. 
They might have found them inscribed on the very 
rocks of India, placed there more than 2000 ye ( ars 
ago by Aaoka, who ruled from 259 to sm B,c. 
Aaoka, who had left thfc old Vedic religion, and 
had embraced the essential principles of Buddha's 
teaching, says"in ono of bin Edicts: 'Tho King Pi- 
yadaei wishes that all sects should dwell everywhere 
(unmolested); for all of them approve of restraint (of 
the sonsos) and purification of the soul,' And again, 
6 The Kinjf Piyadasi honours all sects, monks and: house- 
holders; he honours them* by liberality and various 
kinds of favours. . * * But there is a fundamental law 
for every sect, namely moderation in speech, that one 
should not exalt one's own sect in decrying others, 


and not depreciate them lightly, but that one ought on 
tbe contrary to^how always^to other sects the honour 
due o them. In th$ manner one exalts one's own 
se<$, and benefits others, while in Acting otherwise ono 
injiftes one's own sect, and cfges not benefit others, 
He who exalts his own sect agd decries otfeers, cloes 
It from devotion toliis own sect in order to make it 
illustrious, but really in acting thus he only damages 
his own sect. Therefore peace 'alone cs good, so that 
all should hear and listen glailly to the opinion of 
others V 

The Students of the Science of Religion snouui 
at all events endeavour not to be outdone in impar- 
tiality by this ancient king. Apd, as for myself, I 
can promise that no ono who attends these lectures, 
be he Chrintian or Jew, Hindu or iWohanmiGdan, shall 
hear his own way of serving God spoken of irreve- 
rently '* But true reverence does not consist in de- 
claring a subject, because it is dear to us, to bo unfit 
for free and honest inquiry: far from itt Truo reve- 
rence IH shown in treating ovrry subject, howewr 
sacred, however dear to u, with jwrfnct confidence; 
without fear and without favour; with tenderness and 
love> by all moans, kit, before all, with an unflinching 
and uncompromising loyalty to truth, 

On the other hand, I fully admit that roligion ban 

1 *Le TfutcriptionB <fo rfyatburi,' par K, Hetmrt, 1881, p, 174$ 
8epttt<me Kdit; p. 349, DoussJlm Kclit. 

9 My fttttmtinn haw \mm direc-teil to & cunoun ln^7io of reni 
AtaviMin, My great grand fnibm*, BAe<low, tlie founder of the PMtttn- 
thr(ij>innm,B,t DeHSfin, wrote Rlnifmt { of idem rertn ' that in the genrftl 
divine wervico at hin achmil nothing Hh^ihl happen by wont or Awd, 
oouU iwi be approval if by every wnrfthipptr of Ood, be h* 
Jw, Moliamfnodan, w PeiHt/ He ' Aroliiv fur Leben*bo- 
/ p. 63; Kftuiuer, ' Gusolm-hto der Padagogik/ ii. p. 374. 


stood" in former ages, and stands also in ojir own age, 
if we look abroad, andif we look iafco some of the 
highest and some of the lowest places af home, on a 
level with alchepiy^nd astrology. There exist supeKati* 
tions, little short of fet^hism ; and, what is worse, %ere 
exists hypocrisy, as ba/jl as thaof the Roman augurs* 

In practical Jife it would bo wrong to assume a 
neutral position between such conflicting^ views. 
Where wo see* that the reverence due to religion 5s 
violated, we are bound to protest; where we see that 
superstition saps the roots of faith, and hypocrisy 
poisons the springs of morality, we must take sides. 
But as students of the Science of Religion we move 
in a higher and mere serene atmosphere. We study 
error, as the physiologist studios a disease, looking for 
its causes, tracing its influence, speculating on possible 
remedies of this l/wte i/o5<ro?, but leaving the applica- 
tion of such remedies to a different class of men, to 
the surgeon and the practical physician. Dwer&oa 
diver&a jtwant applies here as everywhere else, and a 
division of labour, according to the peculiar abilities 
and tastes of different individuals, will always yield 
tho best results. The stftdont of the history of the 
physical sciencoB is not angry with tho alchemists, 
nor docs ho arguo with tho astrologies : ho rather 
tries to enter into their view of things, and to dis- 
cover in the errors of alchemy the seeds of chemistry, 
and in the halucinations of astrology a yearning and 
groping after a true knowledge of the heavenly bodies. 
It is the same with the "student of the Science of 
Religion. He wantg, to find out what Religion is, 
what foundation it has in the soul of man, and what 
laws it follows in its historical growth, For that 


purpose th study of errors is to him more instructive 
than the ^tudy. of that religion which he considers 
the ijrue on, and the^smiling augur as interesting a 
subjject as the Boman suppliant wl^o*veiled his, face in 
pray%r,-that he might be alone*with his God. 

The very title of the* Science^of Keligion w*ll jar, I 
know, on the ears of many persons, and a comparison 
of alF the religions of the world, in which none can 
claim a privileged position, will no doubt seem to 
many dangerous and reprehensible 1 , because ignoring 
that peculiar reverence which everybody, down to the 
mere fetish worshipper, feels for his (nun religion and 
for his own God. Let me say then at once that I 
myself have shared these misgivings, but that I have 
tried to overcome them, because I would not and 
could not allow myself to surrender*eitherwhat I hold 
to be the truth, or what I hold still dearer tha* the 
truth, the right of testing truth. Nor do I regret it. 
I do not say that the Science of Religion is all gain. 
No, it entails losses, and losses of many things which 
we hold dear. But this I will say, that, as far as my 
humble judgment goes, it does not entail the loss of 
anything that is essential to true religion, and that 
if we strike the balance honestly, the gain 'is im- 
measurably greater than the loss. 

One of the first questions that was asked by classical 
scholars when invited to consider the value of the 
Science of Language, was, 'What shall we gain by a 
comparative study of languages V Language*, it was 
said, are wanted for practidal purposes, for speaking 

1 <Tbe so-called "Science of Religion" Sf the present day, with its 
attempts to put into competition the sacred books of India and the 
Holy Scnptrcures, is deeply to be deprecated.' Bishop of Gloucester* 


and ifeading ; and by studying too many languages au 
once, we run the risk of losing the firm g^asp which 
we ought to have on the few th%t are really important. 
Our kfcowledge^ *ljy becoming wider, must needg, it 
was thought, become $iallower, and the gain, if $here 
is any,*in knowing he structure of dialects which 
havfe never pr$duce,d any literature at all, would 
certainly be outweighed by the loss in accurate and 
practical scholarship.* 

if jbhis could be said of a comparative study of 
languages, with how much greater force will it be 
urged against a comparative study of religions! 
Though I do not expect that those who study the 
religious books of *Brahmans and Buddhists, of Con- 
fucius and Laotse,jpf Mohammed and Nanak, will be 
accused of Cherishing in their secret heart the doc* 
trinen of those ancient masters, or of having lost the 
firm hold on their own religious convictions, yet I 
doubt whether the practical utility of wider studies 
in the vast field of the religions of the world will be 
admitted with greater readiness by professed theo- 
logians than the value of a knowledge of Sanskrit, 
Zend, Gothic, or Celtic "for a thorough mastery of 
Greek and Latin, and for a rettl appreciation of the 
nature, the purpose, the laws, the growth and decay of 
language was admitted, or is even now admitted, by 
some of our most eminent professors and teachers. 

People ask, What is gained by comparison? Why, 
all higher knowledge is acquired by comparison^ n,d 
rests on comparison. If ?t is said that the kharact&r 
of scientific research jn our age is pre-emfeatly com- 
parative, this really means that our researches are 
now based on the widest evidence that can be ob* 


tained, on t]ie broadest inductions that can be gifcsped 
by the hujnan jaind. 

Wfcat caiS be gainqfl by comparison ? Why, look 
at Jhe study of languages. If ypfl ft go bacfc but a 
hundred years and examine ijjae folios of the most 
learned writers on questions connected with language, 
and then open a bofck written Igr the merest tiro in 
Comparative Philology, you will see what can be 
gained, what has been gained,' by the comparative 
method. A few hundred yeafs ago, the idea^ that 
Hebrew was the original language of mankind was 
accepted as a matter of course, even as a matter of 
iaith, the only problem being to find out by what 
process Greek, or Latin, or any oiier language could 
have been developed out of Hebrew. The idea, too, 
that language was revealed, in the *scholatic sense of 
the word, was generally accepted, although, as arly 
as the fourtih century, St. Gregory, the learned bishop 
of Nyssa, had strongly protested against it 1 . The 
grammatical framework of a language was either 
considered as the result of a conventional agreement, 
or the terminations of nouns and verbs were supposed 
to have sprouted forth like *huds from the roots and 
stems of language; and the vaguest similarity in the 
sound and meaning of words was taken to be a suf- 
ficient criterion for testing their origin and their 
relationship. Of all this philological somnambulism 
we hardly find a trace in works published since the 
days of Humboldt, Bopp, and Grimm. 

Has there been any loss*here ? Has it not been 
pure gain"? Does language exjite our imagination 
less, because we know that, though the faculty of 

1 ' Lectures on the Science of Language,' vol. i. p. 32. 


speafting is the work of Him who "W$ijJ$:s nNS2 
things, the invention <*>f words for, naming each 
object was left to man, and j^as achieved through 
the working of %fre human mind? Is Hebrew Jess 
carefully studied, because it is no longer believed to 
be a repealed language, sent down from heaven, but a 
language doseljr allied to Arabic, Syriac and ancient 
Babylonian, and receiving light from these Cognate, 
and in some respects more primitive, languagesj for 
tha explanation of ifiany of its grammatical forms, 
and for the exact interpretation of many of its 
obscure and difficult words? Is the grammatical 
articulation of Greek and Latin less instructive, 
because instead of seeing in the terminations of nouns 
and verbs merely arbitrary signs to distinguish the 
plural from the singular, or the future from the 
present, we can now perceive an intelligible principle 
in the gradual production of formal out of the 
material elements of language? And are our ety- 
mologies less important, because, instead of being 
suggested by superficial similarities, they are now 
based on honest historical and physiological research? 
Lastly, has our own language ceased to hold its own 
peculiar place? Is our lover for our own native 
tongue at alb impaired ? Do men speak less boldly 
or pray less fervently in their own mother tongue, 
because they know its true origin and its unadorned 
history; because they know that everything in 
language that goes beyond the objects of sense, is and- 
must be pure metaphor? Or does any one deplore 
the fact that there j.a in all languages, ^ven in the 
jargons of the lowest savages, order and wisdom; 
nay, something that makes the world akin? 


Why, iji$n, should we hesitate to apply the* com- 
parative method, which has produced such great results 
in otfcer spheres of knpwledge, to a study of religion? 
Th%t it will change many of the *vjews commonly 
held*about the origin, the character, the growth, and 
decay of the religions "of the -yorld, I do n<ft deny; 
but unless we hold Tihat fearless, progression in new 
inquiries, which is our bounden duty and our honest 
pride in all other branches of knowledge, is dangerous 
in the study of religions, unless Ve allow ourselves to 
be frightened by the once famous dictum, that what- 
ever is new in theology is false, this ought to be the 
very reason why a comparative study of religions 
should no longer be neglected or delayed. 

When the students of Comparative Philology boldly 
adapted Goethe's paradox, ' He who &nows one language 
knows none^ people were startled at first; butthey 
soon began to feel the truth which was hidden beneath 
the paradox. Could Goethe have meant that Homer 
did not know Greek, or that Shakespeare did not 
know English, because neither of them knew more 
bhan his own mother tongue ? No I what was meant 
was that neither Homer nor Shakespeare knew what 
that language really ^ras which he handled with so 
much power and cunning. Unfortunately the old 
rerb f to can/ from which 'canny' and 'cunning,' is 
ost in English, otherwise we should be able in two 
tfords to express our meaning, and to keep apart the 
wo kinds of knowledge of which we are here speaking. 
Is we say in German konndh is not bennen, we might 
ay in English, to can, that is to Jbe cunning, is not to 
m 9 that is to know ; and it would then become clear 
.t once, that the most eloquent speaker and the most 


gifted poet, with all their cunning of wordg ^nd skilful 
mastery of expression, ^rould have toot litfte to say if 
asked, -vfhat really is language,? The same applies to 
religion. He tyfto^knows one, knows none. There, are 
thousands of people -^hose faith is such that'it'fcould 
move mountains, ang who yet, if they were asked 
what religion ^ally is, would remain silent, or would 
speak of outward tokens rather than of th^ inward 
nature, or of the faculty of faith. 

3t rt will be easily perceived that religion means at 
least two very different things. When we speak of 
the Jewish, or the Christian, or the Hindu religion, 
we mean a body of doctrines handed down by 
tradition, or in canonical books, and containing all 
that constitutes the faith of Jew, Christian, or Hindu. 
Using religion in that sense, we may say that a man 
has Changed his religion, that is, that he has adopted 
the Christian instead of the Brahmanical body of 
religious doctrines, just as a man may learn to speak 
English instead of Hindustani. 

But religion is also used in a different sense. As 
there is a faculty of speech, independent of all the 
historical forms of language, there is a faculty of 
faith in man, independent of <all historical religions. 
If we say that it is religion which distinguishes man 
from the animal, we do not mean the Christian or 
Jewish religion; we do not mean any special religion; 
but we mean a mental faculty or disposition, which, 
independent of, nay in spite of sense and fc jreaacv 
enables man to apprehend the Infinite under different 
names, and under pwrying disguises. ,"Wtoout that 
faculty, no religion, not even the lowest worship of 
idols and fetishes, would be possible ; and if we will 


but listen attentively, we can hear in all religions a 
groaning o/ the,j9pirit, a struggle to conceive the in- 
conceivable, r to utter $ie unutterable, a longing after 
the ^Infinite, a love of*God. Whetjbfir the etymology 
whic the ancients gave of the r Greek word fodptoiros, 
man, be true or not (thfy derivejj. it from 6 &v& &6p&v, 
he who looks upward), certain it r is tljat what makes 
man man, is that he alone can turn his face to 
heaven f certain it is that he alone yearns for some- 
thing that neither sense nor reftson can supply,, nay 
for something which both sense and reason by them- 
selves are bound to deny. 

I then there is a philosophical discipline which 
examines into the conditions of sensuous or intuitional 
knowledge, and if there is another philosophical dis- 
cipline which examines into the conaitions*of rational 
or conceptual knowledge, there is clearly a place for a 
third philosophical discipline that has to examine into 
the existence and the conditions of that third faculty 
of man, co-ordinate with, yet independent of, sense and 
reason, the faculty of the Infinite 1 , which is at the 
root of all religions. In German we can distinguish 
that third faculty by the name of Vernunft, as opposed 
to V&rstand, reason, and Sinn, sense. In English I 
know no better name for it, than the faculty of faith, 
though it will have to be guarded by careful definition, 
in order to confine it to those objects only, which can- 
not be supplied either by the evidence of the senses, or 
,by the evidence of reason, and the existence f which 
is nevertheless postulated }fy something without us 

1 I use the word Infinite, because it is lescf liable to be misunderstood 
than the Absolute, or the Unconditioned, or the Unknowable. On the 
distinction between the Infinite and the Indefinite, see Kant, * Critique 
of Pure Reason, 7 translated by M. M., vol. ii, p. 443. 


which we cannot resist. No simply historical fact 
can e^er fall under the> cognisance of faijji, in our 
sense of *the word. 

If w$ look at*t]ie history of modern thought,, we 
find that the dominan school of philosophy, pretious 
to Kanf, had reducec^all intellectual activity to one 
faculty, that of _the Censes, * NiMl in intellects quod 
non ante fuerit in sensu' ' Nothing exists in the 
intellect but what has before existed in the senses/ 
wa their watchword ;*and Leibniz answered epigram- 
matically, but most profoundly, 'Nihil nisi intel- 
lectual * Yes, nothing but the intellect.' Then followed 
Kant, who, in his 'Criticism of Pure Eeason/ written 
ninety years ago, but not yet antiquated, proved that 
our knowledge requires, besides the data of sensation, 
the admission of Ihe intuitions of space and time, 
and the categories, or, as we might call them, the 
laws and necessities of the understanding. Satisfied 
with having established the a priori character of the 
categories and the intuitions of space and time, or, to 
use his own technical language, satisfied with, having 
proved the possibility of synthetic judgments a priori, 
Kant declined to go further, and he most energetically 
denied to the human intellect tbe power of transcend- 
ing the finite,* or the faculty of approaching the In- 
finite. He closed the ancient gates through which 
man had gazed into Infinity ; but, in spite of himself, 
he was driven in his * Criticism of Practical Reason,' to 
open a side-door through which to admit the sense of 
duty, and with it the sen& of the Divine. Tbis has 
always seemed to me the vulnerable point *in Kant's 
philosophy, for if philosophy has to explain what is, 
not what ought to be, there will be and can be no 


rest till we fr admit that there is in man a third faculty, 
TOhich I ^all si$nply the faculty of apprehending the 
Inflate, ndb only in religion, but in all things; a 
poorer independent o sense and refispn, a poorer in a 
certfiur sense contradicted by^sense and reason, but 
yet a very real powefj which as held its cTwn from 
the beginning of th% world, neither jiense nor reason 
being able to overcome it, while it alone is able to 
overcome in many cases both reason and sense 1 . 

According to the two meanings of the word* re- 
ligion, then, the science of religion is divided into two 
parts; the former, which has to deal with the his- 
torical forms of religion, is called Comparative Theo- 

1 As this passage lias given rise to strange misunderstandings, I 
quote a passage from another lecture of mine, m not yet published ' It is 
difficult at present to speak of the human mind &n any technical 
language whatsoever, without being called to order by some philosopher 
or other. According to some, the mind is one and indivisible, and it is 
the subject-matter only of our consciousness which gives to the acts of 
the mind the different appearances of feeling, remembering, imagining, 
knowing, willing or believing. According to others, mind, as a subject, 
has no existence whatever, and nothing ought to be spoken of except 
states of consciousness, some passive, some active, some mixed. I 
myself have been sharply taken to task for venturing to speak, in this 
enlightened igih century of ours, of different faculties of the mind, 
faculties being purely imaginary creations, the illegitimate offspring of 
mediaeval scholasticism* STow I confess I am amused rather than 
frightened by such pedantry* Faculty, facultas, seems to me BO good a 
word that, if it did not exist, it ought to be invented in order to express 
the different modes of action of what we may still be allowed to call 
our mind. It does not commit us to more than if we were to speak of 
-&.Q facilities or agihfaes of the mind, and those only who change the 
forces of nature into gods or demons, would be frightened by the 
faculties as green-eyed monsters seated in the dark recessfs of our Self. 
I shall therefore retain the name of faculty/ &c. 

On the necessity of admitting a faculty of perceiving the Infinite I 
have treated more folly in my ' Lectures on the Science of Language/ 
voL ii pp. 635-632. The subject is ably discussed by Niootra Sangia- 
wmo, in IS In/into di Masc-Mitiler, Oatama, i8Sa, 


i latter, which has to explain the<nditions 
under which religion, whether in its'higjiest or its 
lowest form, is possible, is callecfr Theoretic Theoltyy. 

We skall at present Jiave to*deal with the Jfopner 
only; nay it will be my object to show that the 
problems which chieiy occupy .theoretic theology, 
ought not to be*taken up till all the evidence, that 
can possibly be gained from a comparative sfoidy of 
the religions of the world has been fully collected, 
classified, and analysed. I feel certain that the time 
will come when all that is now written on theology, 
whether from an ecclesiastical or philosophical point 
of view, will seem as antiquated, as strange, as un- 
accountable as the" works of Vossius, Hemsterhuys, 
Valckenaer, and Lqpnep, by the side of Bopp's Com- 
parative Grfftnmar. 

It fhay seem strange that while theoretical theology, 
or the analysis of the inward and outward conditions 
under which faith is possible, has occupied so many 
thinkers, the study of comparative theology has never 
as yet been seriously taken in hand, But the expla- 
nation is very simple. The materials en which alone 
a comparative study of the religions of mankind could 
have been founded were not acceSsible in former days, 
while in our own days they have come to light in 
such profusion that it is almost impossible for any 
individual to master them all. 

It is well known that the Emperor Akbar (1543-* 
1605)* had a passion for the study of religions, a&cl 
that he invited to his court Jews, Christians. Moham- 
medans, Brahmans, and Zoroastrians, and had as many 
of their sacred books as he could get access to, trans- 



lated for fcfe own study *. Yet, how small was $e col- 
lection offered books that even an Emperor of India 
could command not more than 300 years sigo, com- 
parejfl to what may now be {ound in the library of 
any poor scholar ! We have the original text of the 
Veda, which neithgr the bribes nor the threats of 
Akb^r could extort from the Brnhmnns. The trans- 
lation f the Veda which he is said to have obtained, 
was a translation of the so-called AtHarva-veda, and 
comprised most likely the Upanishads only, ai^tic 
and philosophical treatises, very interesting, very im- 
portant in themselves, but as far removed from the 
ancient poetry of the Veda as the Talmud is from the 
Old Testament, as Sufiism is frofh. the Koran. We 
have the Zendavesta, the sacred jmtings of the so- 
called fire-worshippers, and we possess translations of 
it, far more complete and far more correct thafl any 
that the Emperor Akbar obtained from Ardsher, a 
wise Zoroastrian whom he invited from Kirman to 
India 2 . The religion of Buddha, certainly in many 
respects more important than either Brahmanism, or 
Zoroastrianisnr, or Mohammedanism, is never men- 
tioned in the religious discussions that took place every 
Thursday evening 3 at the imperial court of Delhi. 
Abulfazl, it is said, the minister of AJ&ar, could find< 
no one to assist him in his inquiries respecting Buddh- 
ism. We possess the whole sacred canon of the 
Buddhists in various languages, in Pali, Burmese, and 
Siamese, in Sanskrit, Tibetan, Mongolian, and Chinese, 

1 mpiinstone's History of India,' e< CWell, book ix. cap. 3. 
a See 'Journal of tiie Asiatic Society of Bengal/ 1868, p. 14. 
8 See 'Ami Atbari/ transl. by Blochnmam, p. i/j, note 3. 


and i is our fault entirely, if as yet tbfere is no 
complete translation in any European 1 tojigue of this 
important collection of sacred" books. The arfeient 
religion* of China again, that of Confucius and^fhat 
of Laotse, may now be studie in excellent transla- 
tions of their sacred feooks by anybody interested in 
the ancient faitl of ^mankind. 

But this is not all. We owe to missionaries par- 
ticularly, care&l accounts of the religious belief and 
wofship among tribes far lower in the scale of civilisa- 
tion than the poets of the Vedic hymns, or the fol- 
lowers of Confucius. Though the belief of African 
and Melanesian savages is more recent in point of 
time, it may or may not represent an earlier and far 
more primitive phase in point of growth, and is there- 
fore as instructive to the student of religion as the 
study* of uncultivated dialects hae proved to the 
student of language 1 . 

Lastly, and this, I believe, is the most important 
advantage which we enjoy as students of the history 
of religion, we have been taught the rules of critical 
scholarship. No one would venture, flow-a-days, to 
quote from any book, whether sacred or profane, 
without having asked these simple and yet moment- 
ous questions : w hen was it written ? "Where ? and by 
whom? Was the author an eye-witness, or does he 
only relate what he has heard from others? And if 
the latter, were his authorities at least contemporane- 
ous with fiie events which Jbhey relate, and were 

1 See Tiele, ' De Plaats van de Godsdienflten der Nairarvolken in de 
GodsdienstgesoluedeniB/ Aixurterdam, 1873. 
Keview,' *866, p. 71. 

o a 


under the* sway of party feeling or any other disturb- 
ing influence? Was the whole book written at once, 
or ddes it contain portions of an earlier date ; and if 
so, 2^ it possible for us to separate tiisse earlier docu- 
ments from the body of the bock ? 

A study of the original documents on wfiich the 
principal religions of the world profeis to be founded, 
carriedon in this spirit, has enabled some of our best 
living scholars to distinguish in each religion between 
what is really ancient and what is comparatively fiao- 
dern; between what was the doctrine of the founders 
and their immediate disciples, and what were the 
afterthoughts and, generally, the corruptions of later 
ages. A study of these later developments, of these 
later corruptions, or, it may be, improvements, is not 
without its own peculiar charm, and is full of practical 
lessons ; yet, as it is essential that we should 'know 
the most ancient forms of every language, before we 
proceed to any comparisons, it is indispensable also 
that we should have a clear conception of the most 
primitive form of every religion, before we proceed to 
determine its 1 * own value, and to compare it with 
other forms of religious faith. Many an orthodox Mo- 
hammedan, for instance, will relate miracles wrought 
by Mohammed; but in the Koran MTohammed say% 
distinctly, that he is a man like other men. He dis- 
dains to work miracles, and appeals to the great 
works of Allah, the rising and setting of the sun, the 
rain that fructifies the eyth, the plants that grow, 
and the Jiving souls that are born into the world 
who can tell whence? as the leal signs and wonders 
in the eyes of a true believer. * I am only a warner, 1 
ne says; <I cannot show you a sign a miracle 


except what ye see every day and night,, Signs are 

The Buddhist legends teem with miserable miracles 
attributed to Buddha and his disciples miracles w^ieh 
in wonderfulness certainly surpass the miracles 8 any 
other religion : yet in^their own sacred canon a saying 
of Buddha's is jecoi;ded, prohibiting his disciples from 
working miracles, though challenged to do so foy the 
multitudes, wtio required a sign that they might be- 
lieve. And what is 'the miracle that Buddha com- 
mands his disciples to perform? 'Hide your good 
deeds/ he says, ' and confess before the world the sins 
you have committed/ That is the true miracle of 

Modern Hinduism rests on the system of caste as 
on a rock which no arguments can shake : but in the 
Veda, the highest authority of the religious belief of 
the Hindus, no mention occurs of the complicated 
system of castes, such as we find it in Manu: nay, in 
one place, where the ordinary classes of the Indian, 
or any other society, are alluded to, viz. the priests, 
the warriors, the citizens, and the slaves, all are re- 
presented as sprung alike from Brahman, the source 
of all being. 

It would b too much to say that the critical sifting 
of the authorities for a study of each religion has been 
already fully carried out. There is work enough still 
to be done. But a beginning, and a very successful 
beginning, has been made, and the results thus brought 
to light will serve as a wholesome caution, to every* 
body who is engagejjL in religious researcSes. Thus, 

1 'The Speeches and Table-talk of the Prophet Mohammad/ by 
Stanley Lane-Poole, 1882, InirocL p, juuvi and xtt. 


if we stuj the primitive religion of the Veda, we 
ha?e to d^tingijish most carefully, not only beween 
the h^rnms 'of the KSg-veda on one side, and the 
hyinns collected in th S&ma-veda, Ya#ur-ve$a, and 
Athafv#-veda on the other, bu^ critical scholars dis- 
tinguish with equal cate betwqpn the more*ancient 
and the more modefn hymns of Jthe Jlig-veda itself, 
so far "as even the faintest indications of language, of 
grammar, or metre enable them to do sot 

In order to gain a clear insight into the motives 
and impulses of the founder of the worship of Ahu- 
ramazda, we must chiefly, if not entirely, depend on 
thos-e portions of the Zendavesta which are written in 
the GatM dialect, a more primitive dialect than that 
of the rest of the sacred code of the Zoroastrians, 

In order to do justice to Buddha,"we must not mix 
the practical portions of the Tripifaka, the Dharma, 
with the metaphysical portions, the Abhidharma. 
Both, it is true, belong to the sacred canon of the 
Buddhists ; but their original sources He in very dif- 
ferent latitudes of religious thought. 

We have in Jhe history of Buddhism an excellent 
opportunity for watching the process by which a 
canon of saored books is called into existence. We 
see here, as elsewhere, that during the Hetime of the 
teacher, no record of events, no sacred code containing 
the sayings of the master was wanted. His presence 
was ^ enough, and thoughts of the future, and more 
particularly, of future greatness, seldom entered the 
minds of those who followed him. It was only after 

wuw it vrxavL, ujjfuv -MUjKt VLJLBuJLUlGQ CbUUVjill UuUU 

to recall the sayings and doings of their departed Mend 
and master. At that time everything that seemed to 


redound to the glory of Buddha, however extraordi- 
nary afcd incredible, -was eagerly ^elcojned 'while -wit- 
nesses who would have ventured to criticise or reject 
unsupported statements, or to .detract in any Vay 
from the holy cfiaractef of Buddha, had no chanoe" of 
even beig listened to 1 . Andwhen, in spite of all 
this, differences of opinion arose, they were not brought 
to the test by a careful weighing of evidence, birt the 
names of 'unbeliever ' and 'heretic' (n&stika, p&fihamfo) 
werp quickly invented in Injdia as elsewhere, and 
bandied backwards and forwards between contending 
parties, till at last, when the doctors disagreed, the 
help of the secular power had to be invoked, $nd 
kings and emperor^ assembled councils for the sup- 
pression of schism, for the settlement of an orthodox 
creed, and f<jr the completion of a sacred canon. We 
kno-v^ of King Asoka, the contemporary of Seleucus, 
sending his royal missive to the assembled elders, and 
telling them what to do, and what to avoid, warning 
them also in his own name of the apocryphal or he- 
retical character of certain books which, as he thinks, 
ought not to be admitted into the sacred canon 2 . 

1 'Mahavansa,' p. 12, TX&nnebi tatha vatftabbam ita, 'it cannot be 
allowed to other priests to be present.' 

3 The following is Professor Kern's translation of the Second Bairat 
Book Inscription, Containing the rescript which Ajoka addressed to 
the Council of Magadha; 'King Priyadarsin of Magadha greets the 
Assembly (of denes) and wishes them welfare and happiness. Ye 
know, Sirs, now great is our reverence and affection for the Triad which 
is called JBuddha (the Master), Fmth, and Ass&nlly. All that oar 
Lord BudcUp has spoken, my Lords, is well spoken. "Wfcerefor*, Sirs, 
it must indeed be regarded as hiring indisputable authority, se the 
true faith shall last long. Thus, my Lords, I honour in Jhft first place 
these religious works : Summary of the Discipline, T&e Supernatural 
Powers of the Master (or of the Masters), The Terrors of the Future, 
The Song of the Hermit, The Sutra on Asceticism, The Question of 
Upatishya, and the Admonition of Mania concerning Falsehood, 


We here learn a lesson, which is confirmed .by the 
Study of *other jeligions, that canonical books, though 
they furmsti in most cases the most ancientoand most 
authentic information within the reach of the. student 
of religion, are not to be trusfted implicitly, nay, that 
they must be submitted to a more searchingr>criticism 
and to more stringent tests than any other historical 
books. For that purpose the Science of Language 
has proved in many cases a most valuable auxiliary. 
It is not easy to imitate ancient language so 9$ to 
deceive the practised eye of the grammarian, even if 
it were possible to imitate ancient thought that should 
not betray to the historian its modern origin. A 
forged book, like the Ezour-ve^, which deceived 
even Voltaire, and was published by him as 'the 
most precious gift for which the West wag indebted to 
the East,' could hardly impose again on any Sanskrit 
scholar of the present day. This most precious gift 
from the East to the West, is about the silliest book 
that can be read by the student of religion, and all 
one can say in its defence is that the original writer 
never meant it as a forgery, never intended it for the 
purpose for wfiich it was used by Voltaire. 

I may add that a J3ook which has lately attracted 
considerable attention, La Bible dan** FInde, by M, 
Jacolliot, belongs to the same class of books. Though 
the passages from the sacred 'books of the Brahmans 

uttered by our Lord Buddha. These religions works, Sirs, I wish that 
the monks and nuns, for the advancement of their good name, should 
uninterruptedly study and remember, as also the laics of the male and 
female sex. 'For this end, my Lords, I cause this to be written, and 
have made my -wish evident,' See Indiai Antiquary, vol. v, p. 257 ; 
Cunningham, 'Corpus lasoript. India,' p. 133; Oldenberg. 'Yinaynr 
pitaka,* voL L, Xntrod.p,xL 

' LECTUBB I. 85 

are ndt given in the original, but only in a v B eigr poetical 
French translation, no Sanskrit scholar woujd hesitate 
for one tnoment to say that they are forgeries^ and 
that MdTacollio&Ihe President ef the Court of Justice 
at Chandernagore, hag been deceived by his* ri&tive 
teacher. * We find man.y childish and foolish things in 
the Veda, but vtfien .we read the following line, as an 
extract from the Veda : 

'La famine c'egt TAme de 1'htunajait^, - 

it is not difficult to see that this is the folly of the 
nineteenth century, and not of the childhood of the 
human race. M. Jacolliot's conclusions and theories 
are such as might be expected from his materials 1 . 

With all the genuine documents for studying the 
history of the religions of mankind that have lately 
been "brought to light, and with the great facilities 
which a more extensive study of Oriental languages 
has afforded to scholars at large for investigating the 
deepest springs of religious thought all over the 
world, a comparative study of religions has become 
a necessity. If we were to shrink *irom it, other 
nations and other creeds would take up the work. A 
lecture was lately delivered at Calcutta, by the 
> minister of tttfc Adi-Samaj (i.e. the Old Church), *0n 
the Superiority of Hinduism to every other existing 
Religion.' The lecturer held that Hinduism was 
superior to all other religions, 'because it owed its 
name to^io man; because it acknowledged no Bae- 
diator between God and* man; because the Hindu 
worships God, in tha intensely devotiomf sense, as 
the soul of the soul ; because the Hindu alone caa 

1 See Selected Essays, roL Si., p. 468 sq. 


worship God at all times, in business and pleasure, 
and everything; because, -while other Scriptures in- 
culca^te the practice oi;piety and virtue for the sake of 
eternal happiness, th Hindu Scriptures alon# main- 
tain*that God should be worshipped for the sake of 
God alone, and virtue J>ractised^for the sake*bf virtue 
alone ; because HMduism inculqates ijniversal bene- 
volerfce. while other faiths merely refer to man; 
because Hinduism is non-sectarian (believing that all 
faiths are good if the men whfl hold them are good), 
non-proselytizing, pre-eminently tolerant, devotional 
to an entire abstraction of the mind from time and 
sense, and the concentration of it on the Divine ; of 
an antiquity running back to tiie infancy of the 
human race, and from that time till now influencing 
in all particulars the greatest affairs of the State and 
the most minute affairs of domestic life 1 .* 

A Science of Religion, based on an impartial and 
truly scientific comparison of all, or at all events, of 
the most important, religions of mankind, is now only 
a question of time. It is demanded by those whose 
voice cannot be disregarded. Its title, though imply- 
ing as yet a promise rather than a fulfilment, has 
become more or lese familiar in Germany, France, 
and America ; its great problems hava attracted the 
eyes of many inquirers, and its results have been 
anticipated either with fear or with delight, It be- 
comes therefore the duty of those who have devoted 
their life to the study of the principal religions of the 
world in their original documents, and who value 
religion atd reverence it in whatever form it may pre- 
sent itself, to take possession of this new territory in 

1 See 'limes, 1 Oct. 27, 1872. 


the name of true science, and thus to jmjtect- its 
sacred precincts from the inroads of those who think 
that they have a right to speak on* the ancieitt religions 
of mankind, whejbter those of the Brahmans, the Zp- 
roastrians, or Buddhist^, or those of the Jews ftnd 
Christian^ -without ev^r having'taken. the trouble of 
learning the languages in which their sacred books 
are written. What should we think of philosophers 
writing on the religion of Homer, without knowing 
Greek, or on the religion of Mpses, without knowing 
Hebrew '< 

I do not wonder at Mr. Matthew Arnold 1 speaking 
scornfully of La Science des Religions, and I fully 
agree with him that such statements as he quotes 
would take away the breath of a mere man of letters. 
But are these statements supported by the authority 
of any* scholars? Has anybody who can read either 
the Vedas or the Old and New Testaments in the 
original ever maintained that c the sacred theory of 
the Aryas passed into Palestine from Persia and India, 
and got possession of the founder of Christianity and 
of his greatest apostles, St. Paul and St. John ; be- 
coming more perfect, and returning more and more to 
its true character of a " transcenAent metaphysic," as 
the doctors of* the Christian Church developed it$' 
lias Colebrooke, or Lassen, or Bournouf, ever sug- 
gested ' that we Christians, who are Aryas, may have 
the satisfaction of thinking that the religion of Christ 
has not came to us from the Semites, and that it is 
in the hymns of the Veda^ind not in the Bible thafc 
we are to look for the primordial source of any re- 
ligion ; that the theory of Christ is the theory of the 

i ' literature and Dogma,' p. 117. 


Vedic Agni, or fire\ that the Incarnation represents 
%he Ved^c solemnity of the*production of fire, symbol 
of re of every ksnd, of all movement,* life, and 
thought; that the Trinity o Fatfier, Son, and Spirit 
is the* Vedic Trinity of Sur^ Fire, and Wind; and 
God finally a cosmic unity*' Mr. Arnold quotes 
indeed the name of Burnouf, but ke ought to have 
knowp. that Eugene Burnouf has left no son and no 

Those who would use a comparative study Sf re- 
ligions as a means for lowering Christianity by exalt- 
ing the other religions of mankind, are to my mind as 
dangerous allies as those who think it necessary to 
lower all other religions in order to exalt Christianity. 
Science wants no partisans. I make no secret that true 
Christianity, I mean the religion of Christ, seems to me 
to become more and more exalted the more w8 know 
and the more we appreciate the treasures of truth 
hidden in the despised religions of the world. But 
no one can honestly arrive at that conviction, unless 
he uses honestly the same measure for all religions. 
It would be fetal for any religion to claim an excep- 
tional treatment, most of all for Christianity. Chris- 
tianity enjoyed no privileges and claimed no immuni- 
ties when it boldly confronted and Confounded thj 
most ancient and the most powerful religions of the 
world. Even at present it craves no mercy, and it 
receives no mercy from those whom our missionaries 
have to meet face to face in every part of the world. 
Unless Christianity has ceased to be what it was, its 
defenders should not shrink from this new trial of 
strength, but should encourage rather than depreciate 
the study of comparative theology. 

I. 29 

And -let me remark this, in the very beginning, that 
no other religion, with th exception, pojchaps. of early 
Buddhism*, would have favoured the idea*of an^ im- 
partial qpmparisotf of the principal religions of the 
world would ever hav^ tolerated our science. Ne&rly 
every reHgion seems Jp adopt *the language of the 
Pharisee rather ijian that of the Publican. It is Chris- 
tianity alone which, as the religion of humanity, as 
the religion of* no caste, of no chosen people, has 
taught us to study tife history of mankind, as our 
own, to discover the traces of a divine wisdom and 
love in the development of all the races of the world, 
and to recognise, if possible, even in the lowest and 
crudest forms of religious belief, not the work of the 
devil, but something that indicates a divine guidance, 
something that makes us perceive, with St. Peter, 
' that God. is no respecter of persons, but that in every 
nation he that feareth him and worketh righteousness 
is accepted with him/ 

In no religion was there a soil so well prepared for 
the cultivation of Comparative Theology as in our 
own. The position which Christianity Jfrim the very 
beginning took up with regard to Judaism, served as 
the first lesson in comparative tieology, and directed 
Jhe attention wen of the unlearned to a comparison of 
two religions, differing in their conception of the Deity, 
in their estimate of humanity, in their motives of 
morality, and in their hope of immortality, yet shar-* 
ing so much in common that there are but few of the 
psalms and prayers in thP01d Testament in which a 
Christian cannot heartily join even now, anil but few 
rules of morality wliiich he ought not even now to 
obey. If we have once learnt to see in the exclusive 


religion *of the Jews a preparation of what was "to be 
ifoe all-embracing religion df humanity, we shall feel 
muck less*difficulty in recognising in the mazes of 
other religions a hidden purpose; wanderiag in the 
desert? it may be, but a preparation also for the land 
of promise. 

A study of these two religions, th% Jewish and the 
Chrfstjp, such as it has long been carried on by some 
of our moat learned divines, simultaneously with the 
study of Greek and Boman mythology, has, in fact, 
served as a most useful preparation for wider in- 
quiries* Even the mistakes that have been committed 
by earlier scholars have proved useful to those who 
followed after; and, once corrected? they are not likely 
to be committed again. The opinion, for instance, that 
the pagan religions were mere corruption* of the reli- 
gion of the Old Testament, once supported by men of 
high authority and great learning, is now as com- 
pletely surrendered as the attempts of explaining 
Greek and Latin as corruptions of Hebrew l . 

The theory again, that there was a primeval pre- 
ternatural revelation granted to the fathers of the 
human race, and that the grains of truth which catch 
our eye when exploring the temples of heathen idols, 
are the scattered fragments of that sacred heirloom, 
the seeds that fell by the wayside or upon stony 
places would find but few supporters at present ; no 
more, in fact, than the theory that there was in the 
beginning one complete and perfect primevaWanguagej 

1 Tertolliqp, 'Apolog.* xtoii: 'Undo liaeo, oro voa, philosophis aut 
poetistam oonflimilia* Nonnisi de aostri| sacrameutis : si do nostris 
sacramentie, nt de prioribus, ergo fideliora aunt nostra magisque cre- 
deada, quomm imagines quoqne fidem inveninnV See Hardwiok, 'Christ 
and other Masters/ vol. i. p. 17. 


broker* up in later times into the numberless^nguages 
of the world. 

Some dther principles, too, hg,ve been Established 
within tiis limit^d'sphere by a comparison of Judaism 
and Christianity with 'the religions of Grfceca %nd 
Borne, wffich will provf extremely useful in guiding 
us in our own researches. It haS been proved, for 
instance, that the language of antiquity is not like 
the language of our own times ; that the language of 
the East is not like th% language of the West; and 
that, unless we make allowance for this, we cannot 
but misinterpret the utterances of the most ancient 
teachers and poets of the human race. The same 
words do not meaa the same thing in Anglo-Saxon 
and English, in Latin and French: much less can we 
expect that tke words of any modern language should 
be th^ exact equivalents of words belonging to an 
ancient Semitic language, such as the Hebrew of the 
Old Testament. 

Ancient words and ancient thoughts, for both go 
together, have in the Old Testament not yet arrived 
at that stage of abstraction in which,, for instance, 
active powers, whether natural or supernatural, can 
be represented in any but a personal and more or 
teas human form. When we speak of a temptation 
from within or from without, it was more natural for 
the ancients to speak of a tempter, whether in a 
human or in an animal form ; when we speak <>f the 
ever-presemt help of God, they call the Lord fteir 
rock, and their fortress, their buckler, and their s big& 
tower. They even sp^ak of 'the Rock tfc|& begat 
them* (Deut. yinrii. 18), though in a very different 
sense from that in which Homer speaks of the rock 


from whence man has sprung. What with us' is a 
heavenly message, or a godsend, was to them a winged 
messenger? what wecall divine guidance, they speak a pillar of a cloud, to lead thsm the w$y, and a 
pill&r -of light to give them %ht ; a refuge from the 
storm, and a shadow'from the. heat. Whafr is really 
meant is no doubt the same, and the ^ault is ours, not 
their* s, if we wilfully misinterpret the language of ancient 
prophets, if we persist in understanding their words in 
their outward and material asjfect only, and forgetathat 
before language had sanctioned a distinction between 
the concrete and the abstract, between the purely spi- 
rikial as opposed to the coarsely material, the inten- 
tion of the speakers comprehended both the concrete 
and tiie abstract, both the material and the spiritual 
in a manner which has become "quite sirange to us s 
though it lives on in the language of every trua poet. 
Unless we make allowance for this mental parallax, 
all our readings in the ancient skies will be, and must 
be, erroneous. Nay, I believe it can be proved that 
more than half of the difficulties in the history of 
religion owe heir origin to this constant misinterpre- 
tation of ancient language by modern language, of 
ancient thought by modern thought, particularly when- 
ever the word has become more sacrednthan the spirit. 
That much of what seems to us, and seemed to the 
best among the ancients, irrational and irreverent in 
the mythologies of India, Greece, and Italy can thus 
be removed, and that many of their childish fables 
can thus be read again 9x their original child-like 
sense, h&s been proved by the researches of Compa- 
rative Mythologists. The phase of language which 
gives rise, inevitably, we may say, to these misunder- 


standings, is earlier than the earliest literacy docu- 
ments.' Its work in 'that Aryan languages was dona 
before the time of the Veda, befqre the time of Homer, 
though Jts influence continues io be felt to a much 
later period. 

Is it Mkely that the Semitic* languages, .and, more 
particularly, Hejbrew, should, as *by a miracle, have 
escaped altogether the influence of a process which is- 
inherent in the very nature and growth of lafiguage, 
and* which, in fact, may rightly be called an infantine 
disease, against which no precautions can be of any 

I hold indeed that the Semitic languages, for reasons 
which I explained on a former occasion, have suffered 
less from mythology than the Aryan languages ; yet 
we have only to read the first chapters of Genesis in 
order*to convince ourselves, that we shall never un- 
derstand its ancient language rightly, unless we make 
allowance for the influence of ancient language on 
ancient thought* If we read, for instance, that after 
the first man was created, one of his ribs was taken 
out, and that rib made into a woman, every student of 
ancient language sees at once that this" account must 
not be taken in its bare, literal #ense. We need not 
dwell on the &ct that in the first chapter of Genesis 
'a far less startling account of the creation of man and 
woman had been given. What could be simpler, and 
therefore truer, than; 'So God created man in his ow$ 
image, injihe image of God created he him ; male an4 
female created he them. And God blessed them, *&} 
God eaid unto them, Be fruitful, and muH%>Iy, and 
replenish th$ earth, and subdue it?' The question 
then is, bow, after this account of the creation of 


man an4 woman, could there be a second 
of the creation *)f man, of hislone estate in the garden 
of Egen, aifll of the rgmoval of one of his ribs, which 
wqp to be made into a help meet foshim? 

TQose who are familiar witSi the genius of ancient 
Hebrew, can hardly hesitate as to the original in- 
tention of such traditions. Let us remember that 
whefi we, in our modern languages, speak of the self- 
same thing, the Hebrews speak of the bone (DSEP), the 
Arabs of the eye of a*thing. "This is a well knt>wn 
Semitic idiom, and it is not without analogies in other 
languages. 'Bone' seemed a telling expression for 
whfot we should call the innermost essence; 'eye* for 
what we should call the soul or Self of a thing. In 
the ancient hymns of the Veda v too, a poet asks : 
( Who has seen the first-born, when he who had no 
bones, i. e. no form, bore him that had bones ? ' i e.*when 
that which was formless assumed form, or, it may be, 
when that which had no essence, received an essence? 
And he goes on to ask: * Where was the life, the 
blood, the soul of the world? Who sent to ask this 
from any thaihknew it?' In the ancient language of 
the Veda, bone, blood, breath, are all meant to convey 
more than what we sRould call their material meaning ; 
but in course of time, the Sanskrit dtman, meaning 
originally breath, dwindled away into a mere pro- 
noun, and came to mean self. The same applies to 
the Hebrew 'etzem. Originally meaning bone, it came 
to be used at last as a mere pronominal adjective, in 
the sense A of self or same. 

After these preliminary catenations, we can well 
tmderstand that, while if speaking and JvhiTiTdng ^ a 
modern language Adam might have been made to say 

%EOTURB I. 85 

to Eve,;' Thou art the same as I am,' such a thought 
would in ancient Hebrew be expressed by: 'Thou art* 
bone of m^ bone, and flesh of my flesh.' Let sucb an 
expression be rep&ted Jfor a feV generations only, 
and a literal, that is to flay, a material and deceptive 
interpretation, would so$n spring'uj^ and people would 
at last bring themselves to believe that the first woman 
was formed from the bone of the first man, or %om a 
rib, for the simple reason, it may be, because it could 
better be spared than any other bone. Such a mis- 
understanding, once established, retained its place on 
account of its very strangeness, for a taste for the 
unintelligible springs up at a very early time, arid 
threatens to destroy among ancient nations the power 
of appreciating whatever is simple, natural, and whole- 
some. Thus o&ly can it be explained that the account 
pf the creation of the woman obtained its place in 
the second chapter, though in dear opposition to what 
had been said in the first chapter of Genesis \ 

It is not always possible to solve these ancient 
riddles, nor are the interpretations which have been 
attempted by various scholars always Bright. The 
only principle I stand up for is this, that mis- 
understandings of this kind are iaevitable in ancient 
languages, and tkat we must be prepared to meet with 
tfiem in the religions of the Semitic as well as of the 
Aryan nations. 

Let us take another Semitic religion, the ancient 
religion of JBabylon, as described to us in the frag- 
ments of Berosus. The similarities between thai re- 
ligion and the religion^ of the Jews are noJ to be 
mistaken, but such is the contrast between the sim- 

i See 'Selected Essaya,' vol. ii. p. 45<*. 


plicdty <rf the Bible language sad the wild; estra- 
iragance0f tha Babylonian fheogonies, that it requires 
soxoe courage to guess at the original outlines behind 
tbe distorted featured of a hideous caricature*. 

We* have no reason to doubt the accuracy of 
Berosus in describing the religion of the Babylonians, 
at least for the time in which he lived. He' was a 
Baby^nian by birih, a priest of the temple of Belus, 
a contemporary of Alexander the Great. He wrote 
the History of the Ghaldseans, in Greek, evidently 
intending it to be read by the Greek conquerors, 
and he states in his first book that he composed it 
frta the registers, astronomical and chronological, 
which wete preserved at Babylon, and which com- 
prised a period of 200,000 yearj (150,000, according 
to the Syncellus). The history of Beroeus is lost. 
Extacte from it had been made by Alexand* Poly- 
histor, in the first eeatury before our era-, but his 
work too is lost, Ife still existed, however, at the 
&ne when Eusebius {1*70-340) wrote his Chrtmicon, 
Mid wa& used by him in describiBg the ancient history 
of Babylon, * But the Chronicle of Eusebius, too, is 
lotj at least ia Greek, and it is only in an Armenian 
trat&h&oii of Eus%bittg that many of the passages 
have beea preserved to us> which reffir to the bisto^ 
of Babylon, a& originally described by Berosns. This 
Armenian translation was published in 1818, and its 
importance was first pointed out by Niebuhr 2 , As 
we possess large extraejs from usebitt$ preserved 

1 Bnn SOT ,-EgypViT.> 3 64. 

8 Eusebii Pwaphili OaesMitte Eptacopi Ghronfoott Bto^tekXL. 
jxtmo ynsam ex Armemaoo textu in Latinum conversmn, opera P. Jo. 
BAwjfcer Vena 


by Geergius the Syneellus, i. e, the coneellanens, or 
cell-companion, the Vice^patriarch of Constantinople, 
who wrdte a Chronography about 800 "A. p., it is 
possible* in several places to compare the original 
Greek text "with the Armenian, and thus to establish 
the trustworthiness of $ie Arm&dan translation. 

Ber&sus thus describes the Babylonian traditions of 
the creation * : 

* There was a time in which all was darkness and 
water, and in these were generated monstrous orear 
tures, having mixed forms ; men were born with two 
and some with four wings, with two faces, having one 
body, but two heads, a man's and a woman's, and 
bearing the marks* of male and female nature; and 
other men with the legs and horns of goats, or with 
horses' feet, *and having the hind quarters of horses, 
but ttie fore part of men, being in fact like Hip- 
pocentaurs. Bulls also were produced having human 
heads, and dogs with four bodies, having fishes' tails 
springing from their hinder parts; and horses with 
dogs 1 heads, and men and other creatures, having 
heads and bodies of horses, but tails ,,of fishes ; and 
other creatures having the shape of all sorts of beasts. 
Besides these, fishes, and reptHes, and snakes and 
^many other wonderful and strange beings, one having 
the appearance of the other, the images of which are 
to be seen in the temple of Belus. At the head of all 
was a woman, called Qmorka* (Armen, Mwca$a)> -which 

* Eusebii duonioan, voL 1. p, 29* 'Pwgmentft mtia&#wa*? Vt*. *t 

P- 497- , V 

According to Lenaraaitf (' Deluge,* p, 30) BotH TTn*TTwtk In 
moeEerm Armenian, Ana-iurg* is said to mean teotor.e*rth P Prof. 
!Dietrf<&e^ii^ttewOT4w^ See 
Bnnaen's * Egypt,' fr. p. 150. 


is said to be Thalatih 1 in Chaldean, and translated 
in Greelj;, Thalassa (or serf). When all these were 
thus togetBer, Belus eame and cut the wonufn in two : 
and one half of her he made the e&ih, and the other 
half the sky; and he destroyed all the creatures that 
were in her. But thiS account* of nature i&Tx) be un- 
derstood aUegoricafty. For when allr was stilt moist, 
and "creatures were born in it, then the god (Belus) 
cut off his own head, and the gods mixed the blood 
that flowed from it with the earth, and formed men ; 
wherefore men are rational, and participate in the 
divine intelligence/ 

*And Belus, whom they explain as Zeus (and the 
Armenians as Aramazd), cut the darkness in two, and 
separated earth and heaven from each other, and 
ordered the world. And animals which could not 
bear the power of the light, perished. And <33elus, 
when he saw the desert and fertile land, commanded 
one of the gods to cut off his head, to mix the earth 
with the blood flowing from it, and to form men and 
beasts that could bear the air. And Belus established 
also the stars^and the sun, and the moon, and the five 

1 Mr. Sayce writes to mtf: 'Perhaps Lenonnant is right in correcting 
(when compared with the Toi>0* or Tavftjaof Damascins) into 
that is, the Assyrian T&amtu or Tamtu, the sea, ihe Hetf 
In this case the correspondence of ihe Babylonian account 
with Genesis i. 2 will be even greater ' Bunsen explained Tal&deth 
from the Hebrew yalad, as meaning 'laying eggs.' Bunsen's 'Egypt,' 
vol. iv p. 150, Dr, Haupt ('Die SumeriBohe^kkadis^he Spraohe,' 
p. 276) points out ifcat m in Sumei^Accadian dwindled down to v, and 
that the same change may be observed in Assyrian also. Thus the 
Assyria^ Tdmdu, sea (- tahmatu, or ti 'amdu, ti'tontu, stat. oonstr. 
t' ftmat; cf Hebrew tehom) is represented as Tavfll by Damascius, 
'Qsestaones de primis principiis/ ed. Eopp. p. 384), and Damkina, the 


Nothing can be at first sight more senseless and 
confused than this Babylonian version* of ttye genesis 
of the earth and of man ; yet, ifr we examine it more 
carefully, we can stjjl distinguish the following 
elements : 

i. In file beginning tthere waS darkness and water. 

In Hebrew: Darkness was upon the face of the 

a. The heaven was divided from the earth. 

Ift Hebrew : Let there be aftrmament in the midst 
of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the 

waters And God called the firmament Heaven ; 

and God called the dry land Earth. 

3. The stars were made, and the sun and the moon, 
and the five planets. 

In Hebrew : And God made two great lights ; the 
greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to 
rule the night ; he made the stars also. 

4. Animals of various kinds were created. 

5. Men were created. 

It is in the creation of animals in particular that 
the extravagant imagination of the Babylonians finds 
its widest scope. It is said that the images of these 
creatures are to be seen in the temple of Belus, and as 
their description certainly agrees with some of the 
figures of gods and heroes that may now be seen in 
the British Museum, it is not unlikely that the Baby- 
lonian story of the creation of these monsters may 
have arisen from the contemplation of the a&efc&t 
idols in the temples of BaBylon. But this waM still 
leave the original conception of such moj&$ere unex- 

The most important point, however, is this, that 



the Babylonians represented man as participating in 
divine intelligence. The syntbolical language in which 
they* express this ida is no doubt horrible* and dis- 
gusting, but let us recollect tfeat tlie JIebrewsymbol, 
too,*' that God breathed into n>an's nostrils the breath 
of life/ is after all but another weak attempt at ex- 
pressing the same idea, an idea so exalted tnat no 
language can ever express it without loss or injury, 

In order to guess with some hope of success at the 
original meaning of ancient traditions, it is absolutely 
necessary that we should be familiar with the genius 
of the language in which such traditions took their 
origin. Languages, for instance, which do not denote 
grammatical gender, will be free from many mytho- 
logical stories which in Sanskrifc, Greek, and Latin 
are inevitable. Dr. Bleek, the indefatigable student 
of African languages, has frequently dwelt oft this 
fact. In the Preface to his Comparative Grammar 
of the South- African Languages, published in 1863, 
he says : 

' The forms of a language may be said to constitute 
in some degree the skeleton frame of the human mind 
whose thoughts they express .... How dependent, 
for example, the higl&st products of the human mind, 
the religious ideas and conceptions d? even highly 
civilized nations, may be upon this manner of speak- 
ing has been shown by Max-Muller, in his essay on 
Comparative Mythology (Oxford Essays, I855) 1 . 
This will become still more evident from otfr African 
researches. The primary cause of the ancestor wor- 
ship of the one race (Kafirs, Degrees, and Polyne- 
sians), and of the sidereal worship, or of those forms 
1 'Chips from a German Workshop,' vol. ii. pp. 1-146. 


of religion which have sprung from the veneration of 
heavenly bodies, of th<J other (Hottentots, North- 
African, Semitic, and Aryan nations), is Supplied "by 
the ve^p- forms, W their languages. The nations 
speaking Sex-denoting languages are distinguished 
by a higher poetical^ conception, by which human 
agencj- is transferred to other beirfgs, and even to in- 
animate things, in consequence of which iheir* per- 
sonification takes place, forming the origin of*almost 
all mythological legends. This faculty is not de- 
veloped in the Kafir mind, because not suggested by 
the form of their language, in which the nouns of 
persons are not (as in the Sex-denoting languages) 
thrown together with those of inanimate beings into 
the same classes or genders, but are in separate classes, 
without anj* grammatical distinction of sex 1 / 

If ttierefore, without* possessing a knowledge of the 
Zulu language, I venture on an interpretation of an 
account of creation that has sprung up in the thought 
and language of the Zulus, I do so with great hesita- 
tion, and only in order to show, by one instance at 
least, that the religions of savages, too, will have to 

1 See also his Preface to the second volume of the Comparative 
Grammar, published 1869. Mr. E. B.* Tylor has some valuable 
yremarka on the satne subject, in his article on the Beligion of Savages, 
in the Fortnightly Review, 1866, p. 80. Looked at from a higher poiftt 
of view, it la, of couse, not language, as such, which dominate* &* 
mjnd, but thought and language are only two manifestations of the same 
energy, mutually determining each other. Failing to jtewarw ifc& *& 
haa to take efnge, like ^ylor, with the oM ao-aOU* atf '" ' 

as the apparent source of all mythology. Bat 
tautological, not a genetic explanation of my$i 
important difference betwee^the inevitable nd 4fe* 
of the genius of language. The deepest ecruroe of mjCfce&gy lies in tho 
former, and must be carefully dm$pgraBhed from the later sporadic 
diseases of language. 


submit hereafter to the same treatment whidi we 
apply to the sacred traditions of the Semite and 
Axypn nations. I should not be at all surprised if 
tile tentative interpretation whidf J venturgi to pro- 
pos$, -were proved to be untenable by those who 
have studied the ZuJu dialec^p, but I shalFbe much 
more ready to surrender my interpretation, fehan to 
lose*the conviction that there is no solid foundation 
for the study of the religions of savages except the 
study of their languages. 

How impossible it is to arrive at anything like a 
correct understanding of the religious sentiments of 
savage tribes without an accurate and scholarlike 
knowledge of their dialects, is best shown by the old 
controversy whether there are any tribes of human 
beings entirely devoid of religious sentiments or no. 
Those who, for some reason or other, hold that re- 
ligious sentiments are not essential to human nature, 
find little difficulty in collectijjg statements of tra- 
vellers and missionaries in support of their theory. 
Those who hold the opposite opinion find no more 
difficulty in rebutting such statements 1 . Now the 
real point to settle before we adopt the one or the 
other view is, what feind of authority can be claimed 
by those whose opinions we quote; did they really 
know the language, and did they know it, not onljT 
sufficiently well to converse on ordinary subjects, but 
to enter into a friendly and unreserved conversation 
on topics on which even highly educated people are 
so apt to misunderstand %ach other? We want in- 
formant^, in fact, like Dr. Callaway, Dr. Bleek, men 

1 See Schelling, Werke, vol. i p 72 ; and Mr. B. B. Tyler's reply to 
Sir John Lubbock, 'Primitive Culture,' vol. i p. 381. 


who are both scholars and philosophers. Savages 
are shy and silent in th3 presence of white ^itien, and 
they have a superstitious reluctance against mention- 
ing evott the naifies of their gods and heroes. Not 
many years ago it wae^supposed, on what would 'seem 
to be gold authority, Jthat the Zulus had no religious 
ideas tit all ; at* present our very* Bishops have been 
silenced by their theological inquiries. 

Captain Gardiner, in his Narrative of a Journey to 
theZoolu Country undertaken in 1835, gives the 
following dialogue: 

'Have you any knowledge of the power by whom 
the world was made? When you see the sun rising 
and setting, and tbe trees growing, do you know who 
made them and who governs them 2' 

TPAI, a Zlu (af^er a little pause, apparently deep 
in thought), 'No ; we see them, but cannot tell how 
they come; we suppose that they come of them- 

A. ' To whom then do you attribute your success 
or failure in war ? ' 

TPAI. 'When we are not suceessfu], and do not 
take cattle, we think our father (Itango) has not 
looked upon us.' 

A. 'Do yoa think your father's spirits (Amatongo) 
'made the world ? ' 

TPAI. 'No.' 

A. 'Where do you suppose the spirit of man goes 
after it leaves the body 1 ?* 

TPAI, 'We cannot tell/ 

A. 'Do you think it lives for ever?' 

TPAI. 'That we cannot tell; we believe that the 
spirit of our forefathers looks upon us when we go 


to war ; but we do not think about it at any "other 
time. 3 

A* *T?oft admit that you cannot control &e suu or 
th moon, or even make a hair of J^ur head J/o grow. 
Eafeyou no idea of any fiower capable of doing 

TPAJ *No; we*know of none: ^ know tbat we 
camfot do these things, and we suppose that they 
come of themselves.' 

It may seem difficult to find a deeper shade of 
religious darkness than is pictured in this dialogue. 
But now let us hear the account which the Eev, Dr. 
Callaway 1 gives of the fundamental religious notions 
which he, after a long residence among the various clans 
of the Zulus, after acquiring an intimate knowledge of 
their language, and, what is still luvu-e jB^portant, after 
gaining their confidence, was able to extract from their 
old men and women. They all believe, first of all, 
in an ancestor of each particular family and clan, and 
also in a common ancestor of the whole race of man. 
That ancestor is generally called the Unkulunkulu, 
which means^ the great-great-grand&ther 2 When 

1 Dr. Callaway, 'TTnfculimkulu,' p. 54 

9 Ibid, p. 48. UAfalufi&ufa, the word by which God is rendered fn 
Zulu, is derived, according to Bleek, by reduplicatton of a (nasalised^ 
form of the 9th class from the adjective stem -kulu (great, large, oldf 
n-ku-kula, to grow, etc.), and seems to mean originally a great-great- 
grandfather, or the first ancestor of a family or tribe, though perhaps 
the unnaBalised form v-kuluJcuTto is at present more usual in this signi- 
fication. Then it was applied by metapnor to that being from whom 
everything was derived, who ae*>rding to the Zulu tradition has 
created airmen, animals, and other things to whom life and death 
are due, &c. In Inhambane the word for God, derived from the same 
root is Mvfa&ffufa; in Ki-hiztu, Ki-kamba, and Kinika it is JKW^^w; 
in Ej-suiJheli, Mhagu; in Makua, Muhngo or MuMo; in Sofala, 
m Tette, Murwiffo or Mornngo ; in the Ku-suaTieli dialect 


pressejL as to the father of this great-great-grandfather, 
the general answer of tfie Zulus seems to 1$& that he 
'branched off fronj a reed/ or ihat he 'c&me from a 
bed of *eeds.' 

Here, I cannot help* suspecting that languag has 
been at Vork spinning mytholbgy. In Sanskrit the 
word ^parvan) which means originally a knot or joint 
in a cane, comes to mean a link, a member;* and, 
transferred to a family, it expresses the different shoots 
and* scions that spring from the original stem. The 
name for stem or race and lineage in Sanskrit is 
vajrc&a, which originally means a reed, a bamboo-cane. 
In the Zulu language a reed is called uthlanga, strktly 
speaking a reed which is capable of throwing out off* 
shoots 1 . It comes thus metaphorically to mean a 
source of besng. & father is the uthlanga of his chil- 
dren* who are supposed to have branched off from 
him. Whatever notions at the present day the ignor- 
ant among the natives may have of the meaning 
of this tradition, so much seems to be generally 
admitted, even among Zulus, that originally Ifc 
could not have been intended to t$aeh that men 
sprang from a real reed 2 . c lt cannot be doubted/ 
T)r. Callaway writes, 'that the*word alone has come 
down to the people, whilst the meaning has been 


of Mombas, Mtingu; in the Ki-pofeomo, JfvA^o; in Otyi-Hererd, 
Afiubcn* ; see Bleek, ' Comparative Grammar,' 389-394, 
taU Jftftett IB our fatter Muter* ; eee Eolbe^ 
Dictionary,' s. T.God. O 

1 Dr. Callaway, ' TTnknlunbalu,' p. a, note, 

1 In Herero, ' tna memnjsi Mtzkurtt 9 meaas, ^ ^fe'l^wa oreftted, 
i.e. broken trat of the omiinoboromtKjng* (<a**fck-kde) 1n Herero 
fashion by Hukuru ; see Kolbs'e ' English-Heraro rfiatianary,* s v. 


The interpretation which I venture to progose of 
this Zulu myth is this: The Zulus may have said 
originally that they T*ere all offshoots of a re6d, using 
reed in the same sense in which vawfeq, is usedIn San- 
skrit? and meaning therefore no jnore than that they all 
were children of one father, members of one ft,ce. As 
the word uthlanga, Much came to meaji race, retained 
also its original meaning, viz. reed, people, unaccus- 
tomed 6> metaphorical language and thought, would 
soon say that men camja from A reed, or were fetched 
from a bed of reeds, while others would take Uthlanga 
for a proper name and make him the ancestor of the 
human race. Among some Zulu tribes we actually 
find that while TJnkulunkulu is the first man, Uth- 
langa is represented as the first woman 1 . Among 
other tribes where Unkulunkulu was the first man, 
Uthlanga became the first woman (p. 58). 

Every nation, every clan, every family requires 
sooner or later an ancestor. Even in comparatively 
modern times the Britons, or the inhabitants of Great 
Britain, were persuaded that it was not good to be 
without an ancestor, and they were assured by Geof- 
frey of Monmouth that they might claim descent from 
Brutus. In the same manner the Hellenes, or the 
ancient inhabitants of Hellas, claimed descent from 
Hellen. The name of Hellenes, originally restricted 
to a tribe living in Thessaly 2 , became in time the 
name of the whole nation 8 , and hence it was but 
natural that ^Jolos, the ancestor of the Eolians, 

1 Dr. Galloway, 'Unkulunknln,' p. 58. According to tlie Popol Voh 
the first woman was created from the xnarrW of a reed see 'Selected 
Essays/ ii. p. 394- 

* Horn. E. a. 684. i Hmcyd, i. 3. 


ijhe ancestor of the Dorians, and Xuthos, the 
father of Achseos and lorQ should all be represented 
as the sons of Hellen. So far aft is intelligible, if,we 
will onlyrxemembQr*that this is the technical language 
of the heraldic office of ancient Greece. 

But very soon the question "arose, who was the 
father o Hellen^the ancestor of the Greeks, or, ac- 
cording to the intellectual horizon of the ancient 
Greeks, of the whole human race? If he was the 
ancestor of the whole Human race, or the first man, 
he could only be the son of Zeus, the supreme god, 
and thus we find that Hellen is by some authorities 
actually called the son of Zeus. Others, however, 
give a different account. There was in Greece, as in 
many countries, the tradition of a general deluge by 
which every living being had been destroyed, except 
a few ^ho escaped in a boat, and who, after the flood 
had subsided, repeopled the earth, The person thus 
saved, according to Greek traditions, was called Deu- 
kahon, the ruler of Thessaly, the son *of Prome- 
theus. Prometheus had told him to build a ship and 
furnish it with provisions, and when ths flood came, 
he and his wife Pyrrha were the only people who 

Thus it will be seen that the Greeks had really two 
ancestors of the human race, Hellen and Deukalion, 
and in order to remove this difficulty, nothing re- 
mained but to make Hellen the son of Deukalion. 
All this is perfectly natural and intelligible* if 
only we will learn to s|>eak, and not otofy $o 
speak, but also to think the language of tte*aii@&Lt 

The story then goes on to explain how Deukalion 


became the father of all the people on earth; .that he 
and his^ffife Pyrrha were t6ld to throw stones (or the 
bones of &e earth) backward behind thenf, and that 
tfeese stones became men and woin^n. No^ here we 
have "clearly a myth or a joiracle, a miracle, too, 
without any justification, for jf Pyrrha was the wife 
of Deukalion, wh should not Eellen be thear son? 
Alll)e.jsomes clear, if we look at the language in which 
the story is told. Pyrrha means the Red, and was 
originally a name for the red Dearth. As the Hellenes 
claimed to be indigenous or autochthonic, born of the 
earth where they lived, Pyrrha, the red Earth, was 
naturally called their mother, and being the mother 
of the Hellenes, she must needs be made the wife of 
Deukalion, the father of the Hellenes. Originally, 
however, Deukalion, like Manu In India, was repre- 
sented as haying alone escaped from the deluge, and 
hence the new problem how, without a wife, he could 
have become the father of the people ? It was in this per- 
plexity, no doubt, that the myth arose of his throwing 
stones behind him, and these stones becoming the new 
population o| the earth. The Greek word for people 
WB Xiwfe, that for stones A ; hence what could be 
more natural, whei* children asked, whence the Acwfe 
or the people of Deukalion came a tban to say that 
they came from XSes or stones l ? 

I might give many more instances of the same 
kind, all showing that there was a meaning in the 

1 The IJortii American Indians told Roger Williams, that 'they hud 
it from their fathers, that Kautantowwtf made one man and woman 
of a stone, which disliking, he broke thfim in pieoes, and made Another 
man and woman of a tree, which were the fountain of all mankind.' 
* Publications of Narraganaett Club/ voL i. p. 158. 


most t&aaningless traditions of antiquity, all show- 
ing, what is still more important, that these tradi- 
tions, many of them in their present sttffee* absurd 
and repqjlsive, regaftn a simple, intelligible, and even 
beautiful character if ^e divest them of the -cflist 
which language in its inevitable decay has formed 
around "them. 

We never lose, we always gain, when we discover 
the most ancient intention of sacred traditions, instead 
of beong satisfied with 'their l$ter aspect, and their 
modern misinterpretations. Have we lost anything 
if, while reading the story of Hephsestos splitting open 
with his axe the head of Zeus, and Athene springing 
from it, full armed** we perceive behind this savage 
imagery, Zeus as the bright Sky, his forehead as 
the East, Hephsestos"as the young, not yet risen Sun, 
and Athene as the Dawn, the daughter of the Sky, 
stepping forth from the fountain-head of light 

r\av/c7rw, with eyes like an owl (and beautiful they 

UapO&os, pure as a virgin; 

Xptf tro the golden ; 

'Ajcpfa, lighting up the tops of the mountains, and 
her own glorious Parthenon in he$own favourite town 
of Athens ; 

JIoXAeiy, whirling the shafts of light; 

'AX^o, the genial warmth of the morning; 

Uptpaxos, the foremost champion in the battle 
between night and day; 

H(iz;o7rXos, in full armour* in her panoply, of Bgit, 
driving away the darlpiess of night, and r &a$ng men 
to a bright life, to bright thoughts, to bright endea- 


Would the Greek gods lose in our eyes i instead 
of believing that Apollon tnd Artemis murcfered the 
twelve children of.Niobe, we perceived feat Niobe 
was, in a former period of language, a nam^ of snow 
and innter, and that no nft>re was intended by the 
ancient poet than tfeat Apolfon and Artemis, the ver- 
nal deities, must ftlay every year wi|h their darts the 
briHiant and beautiful, but doomed children of the 
Sno\^? Is it not something worth knowing, worth 
knowing even to us^ after the lapse of four qr five 
thousand years, that before the separation of the 
Aryan race, before the existence of Sanskrit, Greek, 
or, Latin, before the gods of the Veda had been wor- 
shipped, and before there was % sanctuary of Zeus 
among the sacred oaks of Dodona, one supreme Deity 
had been found, had been namdfl, had .been invoked 
by the ancestors of our race, and had been mvofced 
by a name which has never been excelled by any 
other name, Dyaus, Zeus, Jupiter, Tyr, all meaning 
originally light and brightness, a concept which on 
one side became materialized as sky, morning, and 
day, while on the other it developed into a name of 
the bright and heavenly beings, the Devas, as one of 
the first expression^ of the Divine? 

No, if a critical examination of the ancient language 
of our own religion leads to no worse results thaJh 
those which have followed from a careful interpreta- 
tion of the petrified language of ancient India and 
Greece, we need not fear; we shall be gjiineors, not 
losers. Like an old previous metal, the ancient reli- 
gion, after the rust of ages has been removed, will 
come out in all its purity an*d brightness: and the 
image which it discloses will be the image of the 


Father,' the Father of all the nations upon earth ; 
and the "superscription, when we can read it again, 
will be, not in Judaea only, but i$ the languages fl of 
all the rjces of thfc world, the Word of God, re; 
vealedj where alone it cafi. be revealed, revealed n 
the heart 06 man. 


FEBBUABY 36, 1870. 

flpHERE is no lack of materials for the student of 
JL the Science of "Religion. It is true tha, com- 
pared with the number of languages which the com- 
parative philologist has to deal with, the number of 
religions is small. In a comparative study of lan- 
guages, however, we find most of our materials ready 
for use ; we possess grammars and dictionaries, while 
it is difficult to 'say, where we are fc> look for the 
grammars and dictionaries of the principal religions 
of the world. Not in the catechisms, or the articles, 
not even in the so-called creeds 1 or confessions of faith 
which, if they do not give us an actual misrepresen- 
tation of the doctrines which they profess to epitomise, 
give us always the shadow only, and never the soul 
and substance of a religion. But how seldom do we 
find even such helJ>sJ 

Among Eastern nations it is not unusual to distin- 
guish between religions that are founded on a book, 
and others that have no such vouchers to produce. 

1 'What are creeds? Skeletons, freezing abstractly metaphysical 
expressions of unintelligible dogmas; and these I am to regard as the 
expositions of the fresh, living, infinite truth which came from Jesus ! 
I aught with equal propriety be required to hear and receive the 
lispings of infancy as the expressions of wisdom, Creeds are to the 
Scriptures, what rushlights are to the sun.* Dr. Charming, 'On 


The former are considered more respectable, and, 
though they may contain* false doctrine, th#y are 
looked upon as a kind of aristocracy among the 
vulgar and nondescript crjpwd of bookless or illiterate 
reKgions 1 . 

To the student of religion canonical books are, no 
doubt, of the utmost importance, but he ought never 
to forget that canonical books too give the reflgofed 
image only of the real doctrines of the founder of a 
new religion, an image always Wurred and distorted 
by the medium through which it had to pass. And 
how few are the religions which possess a sacred canon! 
how small is the aristocracy of real book-religions in 
the history of the world 1 

Let us look at the. two races that have been the 
principal actors in that great drama which we call 
the history of the world, the Aryan and the Semitic^ 
and we shall find that two members only of each race 
can claim the possession of a sacred code. Among 
the Aryans, the Hindus and the Persians; among the 
Shemites, the Hebrews and the Arabs. In the Aryan 
family the Hindus, in the Semitic family the Hebrews, 
have each produced two book-religions; the Hindus 
have given rise to Brahmanism aad Buddhism; the 
I^pbrews to Mtf&aism and Christianity, Nay, it is 
important to observe that in each family the third 
book-religion can hardly lay daim to an independent. 
origin, but is only a weaker repetition of ike firsi, 
Zoroastrianism has its sources in the aams 

1 Even before Mohammed, % people in posaeo&mrf fc{ 
ktt&Owerein Ajabio distiiigiiififad from the mnsaiynn, ttofeatihea. 
The aama ahl i klttfb W9*> howler, property restricted to 
t 868 Jfate A* 


which fed the deeper and broader stream X>f Vedie 
religion ^Mohammedanism springs, as far^fts its most 
vital doctrines are" concerned, frgm the ancient foun- 
tain-head of the religion o Abraham, the Worshipper 
andlhe friend of the one tnre God. 

If you keep befofe your mind the following simple 
outline, you can see at one glance tile river-system in 
which the religious thought of the Aryan and the 
Semitic nations has been running for centuries of 
those, at least, who "are in possession of sacrdd and 
canonical books. 


Old Testament 



New Testament 




While Buddhism is the direct offspring, and, at the 
same time, the antagonist of Erahmanism, Z/oroas- 
trianism is rather a deviation from the straight course 
of ancient Vedic fedth, though it likewise contains a 
protest against some of the doctrines of the earliest 
worshippers of the Vedic gods. The same, or nearly 
the same relationship holds together the three prin- 


cipal religions of the Semitic stock, only that, chrono- 
logically, ]ohanimedanism is later than Christianity, 
while Zoroastrianism is earlier than. Buddhisin. 

Observe also another, and, as we shall see, by no 
means accidental coincidence in the parallel ramifica- 
tions of these two religious stems? 

BuddMsm, which is the offspring of, but at the 
same time marks a reaction against, the ancient frah- 
manism of Eadia, withered away after a time on the 
soil from which it had sprung, And assumed its real 
importance only after it had been transplanted from 
India, and struck root among Turanian nations in the 
very centre of the Asiatic continent. Buddhism, 
being at its birth an* Aryan religion, ended by becom- 
ing the principal religion of the Turanian world. 

The same transference took place in the second 
stem. * Christianity, being the offspring of Mosaism, 
was rejected by the Jews as Buddhism was by the 
Brahmans. It failed to fulfil its purpose as a mere 
reform of the ancient Jewish faith, and not till it 
had been transferred from Semitic to Aryan ground, 
from the Jews to the Gentiles, did it devjelope its real 
nature and assume its world-wide importance. Having 
been at its birth a Semitic religion, it became the 
jrincipal religion of the Aryan world. 

There is one other nation only, outside the pale of 
the Aryan and Semitic families, which can claim one, 
or even two book-religions as its own. China is the 
mother ofr two religions, each founded on a &&3R& 
code the religion of Conrucius, (Kung Fu-tee, i e. 
Rung, the Master,) and the religion of Lacntee, the 
former resting on the ^Tive King and the Four Shu, 
the latter on the Tao-te-king. 


With these eight religions the library of th^ Sacred 
Books of the whole humarf race is complete, and an 
acqirate Study of these eight codes, written in San- 
s^rit, P&li, and Zend, in Eebrew^Cfcreek, and Arabic, 
lastly in Chinese s might in itself not seem too formid- 
able an undertaking d or a single scholar. Yet, let us 
begin at home, atfd look at the enormous literature 
devoted to the interpretation of the Old Testament, 
and the number of books published every year on 
controverted points i^ the dtfctrine or the history of 
the Gospels, and you may then form an idea of what 
a theological library would be that should contain 
tbe necessary materials for an accurate and scholar- 
like interpretation of the eight sacred codes. The 
Tao-te-king, the canonical book of the followers of 
Lao-tse, contains only about 5,320 woids, the com- 
mentaries written to explain its meaning are endless 1 . 
Even in so modern, and, in the beginning, at least, so 
illiterate a religion as that of Mohammed, the sources 
that have to be consulted for the history of the faith 
during the early centuries of its growth are so abund- 
ant, that few critical scholars could master them in 
their completeness 2 . 

If we turn our eyes to the Aryan religions, the 

1 Julian, ' Tao-te-king,* p. xrsv; see infra, p. 62. 

1 Sprengsr, ' Das Leben des Mohammed, 1 vol. i. p. 9 : 'Bie Quellen, 
die ich benutzt babe, sind 90 zallreich, trad der Zustand der Gelehr- 
samkeit war unter den Moalimen in ihrer Urzeit von dera unHrigen so 
verscMeden, dasa die Materialien, die ioh fiber die Quelfen geaammelt 
tabe, ein ziemlich beleibtes Banchhen bilden werden, Es 1st in der 
Th%t nothwesdig, die Literatnigesohiohte dee Islam der ersten zwei 
Jabrhunderte am. schreiben, mn den Les^f in. den Stand m setzen, den 
tier gesammelten kritisohen Apparat zn bemitzen. Ioh gedenke die 
Eesoltate meiner Foreohungen ala eins separates Werkohen iwwh der 
PtopheteoibiograpMe horauszngeben.^ 


sacred ^writings of the Brahmans, in the narrowest 
acceptation of the word?, might seem within easy 
grasp. The hymns of the Big-*reda, whiBh are the 
real bible of the-ancient faith of the Vedic Bishis, $re 
only 1,028 in number consisting of about scQjSo 
verses 1 . ^The commentary, however, on these hymns, 
of which I ha?we published six * good-sized quarto 
volumes, is estimated at 100,000 lines consisting of 
32 syllables each, that is at 3,200,000 syllables 2 . 
There are, besides, the three minor Vedas, the Ya#ur- 
veda, the S&ma-veda, the Afcharva-veda, which, though 
of less importance for religious doctrines, are indis- 
pensable for a right appreciation of the sacrifioial 
and ceremonial system of the worshippers of the 
ancient Vedic gods. 

To each ef these" four Vedas belong collections of 
so-called Br&hmanas, scholastic treatises of a later 
time, it is true, but nevertheless written in archaic 
Sanskrit, and reckoned by every orthodox Hindu as 
part of his revealed literature. Their bulk is much 
larger than that of the ancient Vedic hymn-books. 

And all this constitutes the text only for number- 
less treatises, essays, manuals, glosses, &c., forming an 
uninterrupted chain of theological literature, extend- 
ing over mor^than three thousand years, and receiv- 
ing new links even at the present time. There are, 
besides, the inevitable parasites of theological litera- 
ture, the controversial writings of different scboofe of 
thought and faith, all claiming to be orthodox, yefe 
differing from each other *Hke day and uigfetj od 
lastly, the compositions of writers, pcofefeedly at 

1 Max Muller, 'History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature,' p. aao. 


variance with the opinions of the majority, declared 
enemies ef the Brahmanic taith and the B^ahmanic 
priesthood, wnose accusations and insinuations, whose 
sledge-hammer arguments, and whose*poisone<f arrows 

of theological warfare In any other country. 

Nor can we exclude the sacred latf-books, nor the 
ancieni^ epic poems, the Mah&bh&rata and K&m&yana, 
nor the more modern, yet sacred literature of India, 
the Pur&was and Tantras, if we'wish to gain an insight 
into the religious belief of millions of human beings, 
who, though they all acknowledge the Veda as their 
supreme authority in matters of faith, are yet unable 
to understand one single line of it," and in their daily 
life depend entirely for spiritual food on the teaching 
conveyed to them by these more receiffc and more 
popular books. 

And even then our eye would not have reached 
many of the sacred recesses in which the Hindu 
mind has taken refuge, either to meditate on the 
great problems of life, or to free itself from the 
temptations and fetters of worldly existence by 
penances and mortifications of the most exquisite 
cruelty. India has *always been teeming with re- 
ligious sects, and as far as we can lo r ok back into** 
the history of that marvellous country, its religious 
life has been broken up into countless local centres 
which it required all the ingenuity and perseverance 
of a priestly caste to hold^ together with a Semblance 
of dogmatic uniformity. Some of these sects may 
almost claim the title of independent religions, as, 
for instance, the once famous sect of the Sikhs, 
possessing their own sacred code and their own 


priesthood, and threatening for a time to become a 
formidable rival of Brahmanism and Mohammedanism 
in India. Political circumstances gave to" the sect of 
Mnaknts historical prominence and more lasting 
fame. To the student of religion it is but 0n out 
of many sects which took theirnorigin in the fifteenth 
and s&teenth centuries, and attempted to replace the 
corruptions of Hinduism and Mohammedanism n by a 
purer and more spiritual worship. The Granth, i.e. 
the Volume, the sacred book of the Sikhs, though 
tedious as a whole, contains here and there treasures 
of really deep and poetical thought: and we may 
soon hope to have a complete translation of iir by 
Dr. Trumpp 1 . But there are other collections of 
religious poetry, mgre ancient and more original than 
the stanzas*of N&nak ; nay, many of the most beau- 
tiful 1 verses of the Granth were borrowed from these 
earlier authorities, particularly from Kabir, the pupil 
of R&m&nand. Here there is enough to occupy the 
students of religion : an intellectual flora of greater 
variety and profuseness than even the natural flora of 
that fertile country. 

And yet we have not said a word as yet of the 
second book-religion of Indian of the religion of 
Buddha, originally one only out of numberless sects, 
but possessing a vitality which has made its branches 
to overshadow the largest portion of the inhabited 
globe. Who can say I do not speak of European 
scholars* only, but of the most learned members of 
the Buddhist fraternities who can say that he has 

1 This translation has since been published* * The Adi Gr*nth, or the 
Holy Scriptures of the Sikhs,' translated from the original Guraukhi 
by Dr. E. Trumpp, London, 1877. 


read the whole of the canonical books of the BuiL&hist 
Church, if say nothing of th&r commentaries, or later 
treatises ? 

According to a tradition preserved Jby the Buddhist 
scho8ls' of the South and of the North, the sacred 
canon comprised originally 80,000 or 84,000 tracts, 
but most of them were lost, so that 4ihere remained 
only 5 s ooo \ According to a statement in the Saddhar- 
m&laikara, the text and commentary of the Buddhist 
canon contain together, 39,368*000 letters, while the 
English translation of the Bible is said to contain 
3,567,180 letters, vowels being here counted as sepa- 
rate.from the consonants. 

At present there exist two sacred canons of Bud- 
dhist writings, that of the South, in P&li, and that of 
the North, in Sapskrit. The Budihist canon in P&li 
has been estimated as twice as large as the Bible, 
though in an English translation it would probably 
be four times as large 2 . Spence Hardy gave the 
number of stanzas as 375,350 for the P&li canon, and 
as 361,550 for its Commentary, and by stanza he meant 
a line of 33 syjjables. 

The Buddhist canon in Sanskrit consists of what 
is called the "Nine Dkormas V In its Tibetan trans- 
lation that canon, divided into two collections, tbe Kan- 
jurandTanjur, numbers 335 volumes folio, each weigh-* 
ing in the Pekin edition from four to five pounds. 

Besides these two canons, there is another collate- 
ral branch, the canon of the ffainas. The ffaihas trace 

1 See Burnouf, 'Introduction &, rhistojre du BuddLJfome indien,* 
p 37. 'Selected Essays,' ii. p. 170, 
' Selected Essays, 1 ii. p. 170. 
8 Ibid. p. jSa. 


the origin of their religion back to Mah&vira, who was 
believed, however, to halve been preceded bv 23 Tir- 
thakara?the 33rd being P&rsva. (2,50 before HaMyira). 
Mahavfra is ca^LetL also tffl&taputra 1 or OT&tnputra 
or ^tiputra by both 91 ffadnas and Eauddha&(lfSta- 
putta itf P&li, N&yaputta in ^aina Prakrit), and is 
reported by both sects to have died at P&pft. The date 
of his death, as given by the <?ainas, 527 :BUC,, would 
make him older than Buddha. The true relation, 
however, of the #ainao to the r Bauddhas, or followers 
of S&kyamuni, remains still to be determined. Their 
sacred books are written in a Prakrit dialect, com-* 
monly called Ardhamagadh!, while the dialect o the 
Fall scriptures is .called Magadhi. According to the 
SiddhUnta-dharma-sara these #aina scriptures are col- 
lectively c%Ued Sutras or Siddhantas 9 and classed, 
first? under two heads of Kalpa-siltra and Agama, 
five works coming under the former, and forty-five 
under the latter head; and secondly, under eight dif- 
ferent heads, viz. i, eleven Afigas; 2, twelve Upaiigas, 
3, four MMa-sutras ; 4, five Kalpa-sutras ; 5, six &edas ; 
6, ten Payannas; 7, Nandi-sutra; 8, Anuyogadvara- 
sutra. The total extent of these fifty works together 
with their commentaries is, according to 6tadna belief, 
600,000 tflokas 2 * In the form in which we now 
possess them, the <?ainas Sutras are not older than 
the fifth century A.IX (See * Indian Antiquary,' ix. 
p. 161.) 

Withfc a smaller compass lies the sacred literature 
of the third of the Aryan4>ook-religioDS, the so-called 

1 See BQhlec, 'Indian ^tiquaiy,' m p. 143; HJaoobi, Chi 
MaMvlra and his predecessors,* Indian Antiquary, is. 158; also bis 
preface to the Ejtlpftsdtara of KisdrabAliti, 1879* 

* EajendriUla, Mitra, 'Noticce of Swakrit MSS.' vol. iii. p. 67. 


Zend-Avesta. But here the very scantiness of the 
ancient texts increases the difficulty of its successful 
interpretation, and th$ absence of native commentaries 
has thro-wn nearly the whole burdetf of deciphjring.on 
the patience and ingenuity of European scholars. 

If lastly we turn to !hina, we find that th religion 
of Confucius is founded on the Five t King apd the 
Four*Shu books in themselves of considerable extent, 
and su$*ounded by voluminous commentaries, without 
which even the most learned scholars would not ven- 
ture to fathom the depth of their sacred canon 1 . 

Lao-tse, the contemporary, or rather the senior, of 
Confucius, is reported to have written a large number 
of books 2 : no less than 930 on different questions of 
faith, morality, and worship, and 70 on magic. His 
principal work, however, the TadHe-king, which re- 
presents the real scripture of his followers, theJTao- 
sse, consists only of about 5,000 words 3 , and fills no 
more than thirty pages. But here again we find that 
fqr that very reason the text is unintelligible without 
copious commentaries, so that M. Julien had to consult 
more than sixty commentators for the purpose of his 
translation, the earliest going back as far as the year 
163 B.C. 

There is a third established religion yi China, that 
of Fo; but Fo is only the Chinese corruption of 

1 'The Chinese Classics, with a Translation, Notes, Prolegomena, 
and Indexes/ By James Legge, D.D. 7 vols. See also 'Sacred 
Books of the East,' vols. iii, xvi, * 

* Stan. JuKen, ' Tao-te-king,' p. rmi. 

8 Ibid, pp? xaod. xxxv. The texts vary from 5,610, 5,630, 5,688 to 
5,722 words. The text published by M. Stan. Julien consists of 5,320 
words. A new translation of the ' Tao-te-king ' has been published at 
Leipzig by Dr. Victor von Strauss, 1870. 


Buddha, and though, the religion of Buddha, as trans- 
ferred Irom India to China, has assumed a peculiar 
character*and produced an enormous literature of its 
own, yet Chinese Buddhism cannot be called an inde- 
pendent religion. We ftiust distinguish betwegntne 
Buddhism of Ceylon, Burmah, and Slam, on one side, 
and thjrfi of Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia, China, Corea, 
and Japan on the other. In China, however, although 
the prevailing form of Buddhism is that of tlS San- 
skrit canon, commonly, called the Northern canon, 
some of the books belonging to* the P&li or Southern 
canon have been translated and are held in reverence 
by certain schools. 

But even after we have collected this enormous 
library of the sacred books of the world, with their 
indispensable commentaries, we are by no means in 
possession of* all the requisite materials for studying 
the growth and decay of the religious convictions of 
mankind at large. The largest portion of mankind, 
ay, and some of the most valiant champions in the 
religious and intellectual struggles of the world, would 
still be unrepresented in our theological library. Think 
only of the Greeks and the Romans 1 think of the 
Teutonic, the Celtic, and Slavonic nations I Where 
fire we to gain jn insight into what we may call their 
jfcal religious convictions, previous to the compara- 
tively recent period when their ancient temples were 
levelled to the ground to make room for new cathe- 
drals, and Jheir sacred oaks were felled to be changed 
into crosses, planted along -every mountain pass stid 
forest lane ? Homer and Hesiod do not tell $ what 
was the religion, the refcl hearir-religion, of the Greeks, 
nor were their own poems ever considered as sacred, 


or e-ven as authoritative and binding, by the Hghest 
intellects among the Greeks In Rome we have not 
even an IHad or Odyssey ; and when we as*k for the 
religious worship of the Teutonic? the Celtjp, or the 
SldJVoctic tribes, the very names of many of the deities 
in whom they believed are forgotten and lost for ever, 
and the scattered* notices of their feith ha^ to be 
picked up and put together like the small stones of a 
broken mosaic that once formed the pavement in the 
ruined temples of Rome. 

The same gaps, the same want of representative 
authorities, which we witness among the Aryan, we 
meet again among the Semitic nations, as soon as we 
step out of the circle of their took-religions. The 
Babylonians, Assyrians, the Phenicians and Cartha- 
ginians, the Arabs before their c&nversign to Moham- 
medanism, all are without canonical books, and a 
knowledge of their religion has to be gathered, as 
well as may be, from monuments, inscriptions, tra- 
ditions, from proper names, from proverbs, from curses, 
and other stray notices which require the greatest 
care before they can be properly sifted and success- 
fully fitted together 1 . 

But now let us <go on further. The two beds in 
which the stream of Aryan and Semitic thought has 
been rolling on for centuries from south-east to nortB- 

1 It has been pointed out by Professor Noldeke that not only the 
great religions, but mere sects also are sometimes in possession of Sacred 
Books. Suoh are the Mandseans (representing the Aramsean nation- 
ality), the Druses, the Yezidis, Jttfosairis, and, it may DO, some more 
half-pagaji. sects under a Muslim garb. Even some of the Manich&an 
writings, of which fragments exist, might be added to this class, and 
would throw much light on the independent growth of gnosticism, 
which can be by no means fully explained as a mere mixture of Christian 
and Iranian ideas. 


west, from the Indus to the Thames, from the Eu- 
phrates "to the Jordan, and the Mediterranean, cover 
but a narrow tract of country Compared *mth the 
vastness $f our gljbb. As we rise higher, our horizon 
expands on every side, aftd wherever there are traCes 
of human Mfe, there are traces als|p of religion. Along 
the shoi$s of the, ancient Nile we see still standing 
the Pyramids, and the ruins of temples and labyrinths, 
their walls covered with hieroglyphic inscriptions, 
and with the strange pietures of gods and goddesses. 
On rolls of papyrus, which have defied the ravages of 
time, we have even fragments of what may be in a 
certain sense called the sacred books of the Egyptians. 
Yet, though much hq,s been deciphered in the ancient 
records of that mysterious race, the main spring of 
the religion of Egypff and the original intention of its 
cerem(iial worship are far, as yet, from being fully 
disclosed to us. 

As we follow the sacred stream to its distant sources, 
the whole continent of Africa opens before us, and 
wherever we see kraals and cattle-pens, depend upon, 
it there was to be seen once, or there is to be seen 
even now, the smoke of sacrifices rising up from earth 
to heaven. The relics of the ancient African faith are 
rapidly disappearing ; but what has been preserved is 
fffll of interest to the student of religion with its 
strange worship of snakes and ancestors, its vague 
hope of a future life, and its not altogether faded re- 
miniscence^of a Supreme God, the Father of the black 
as well as of the white man 1 *. 

1 Dr. Oallaway, ' UDkulunktlu, 1 p. 45: 'It is as though we sprang 
from Utblanga ; we do not know where we were made. We black men 
h*d the somei origin as yon, white men. 1 


From the eastern coast of AMca our eye i& tarried 
across ihe sea where, from - Madagascar to Hawaii, 
island after island stands out like so many pillars of 
8* sunken bridge that once spannea the Indian and 
Pacific oceans. Everywheia, whether among the 
dark Papuan or th yellowish Malay, or the brown 
Polynesian races* scattered -on these islands, even 
among the lowest of the low in the scale of hu- 
manity, there are, if we will but listen, whisperings 
about divine beings imagrnings of a future life; 
there are prayers and sacrifices which, even in their 
most degraded and degrading form, still bear witness 
to that old and ineradicable faith that everywhere 
there is a God to hear our prayers, if we will but 
call on Him, and to accept our offerings, whether 
they are offered as a ransom for sin, 01 as a token of 
a grateful heart. 

Still farther east the double continent of America 
becomes visible, and in spite of the unchristian van- 
dalism of its first discoverers and conquerors, there, 
too, we find materials for the study of an ancient, 
and, it woul^L seem, independent faith. Unfortunately, 
the religious and mythological traditions collected by 
the first European* who came in contact with the 
natives of America, reach back but ft short distance 
beyond the time when they were written down, and 
they seem in several cases to reflect the thoughts of 
the Spanish listeners as much as those of the native 
narrators. The quaint hieroglyphic manuscripts of 
Mexico and Guatemala hltve as yet told us very little, 
and the accounts written by 'natives in, their native 
Janguage have to be used with great caution, Still 
the ancient religion of .the Aztecs of Mexico and of 

II. 6? 

the Irioas of Peru is full of interesting problems. As 
we advance towards tta north and its red^skinned 
inhabitants, our information becomes more meagre 
still, an<! after what happened some years ago, mo 
Livre des Sauvages is likely to come to our assistance 
again. "?et there are wild and home-grown speci- 
mens oftreligioua faith to be studied even now among 
the receding and gradually perishing tribes $f*the 
Bed Indians, and, in their languages as well as in 
their religions, traces may possibly still be found, 
before it is too late, of pre-historic migrations of men 
from the primitive Asiatic to the American continent, 
either across the stepping-stones of the Aleutic bridge 
in the north, or low^r south by drifting with favour- 
able winds from island to island, till the hardy canoe 
was landed or wrecked on the American coast, never 
to retilrn again to the Asiatic home from which it had 

Ajad when in our religious survey we finally come 
back again to the Asiatic continent, we find here too, 
although nearly the whole of its area is now occupied 
by one or the other of the eight book-religions, by 
Mosaisra, Christianity, and Mohammedanism, by 
Brahmanism, Buddhism, and Zoreadtrianism, and in 
China by the "religions of Confucius and Lao-tse, 
that nevertheless partly below the surface, and in 
some places still on the surface too, more primitive 
forms of worship have maintained themselves. I 
mean the Shamanism of the Mongolian race, and the 
beautiful half-Homeric mythology of the Fimajsh and 
Esthonian tribes. 

And now that I have displayed this world-wide 
panorama before your eyes, you will share, I think, 


the feeling of dismay with which the studeq&bf the 
science <pf religion looks around, and aslsp himself 
whsre to fiegin and tiow to proceed* That there are 
materials in abundance, capable of scientific treatment, 
no on& would venture to deny. But how are they to 
be held together? How are wo to discovdr what all 
these religions share in common? How they differ? 
How they rise and how they decline ? What they arc 
and what they mean ? 

Let us tako the old saying, Divide et impera, and 
translate it somewhat freely by * Classify and un- 
derstand/ and I believe wo shall then lay hold of 
tfv9 old thread of Ariadne which has led the students 
of many a science through darker labyrinths even 
than the labyrinth of the religions of tho world. All 
real science rests on classification, and oily in case wo 
cannot succeed in classifying tho various diaftcts of 
faith, shall we have to confess that a science of re- 
ligion is really an impossibility,, If the ground before 
us has once been properly surveyed and carefully par- 
colled out, each ncholar may then cultivate his own 
glebe, without wasting hi energies, and without losing 
sight of the general purposes to which all special re- 
searches must be subservient* 

How, then, is the vast domain of religion to ha 
parcelled out? How are religions to be classified, or, 
we ought rather to ask first, how have they been 
classified before now? The simplest classification, and 
one which wo find adopted in almost evftry country, 
is thafcjnto true and/0/se religions. It is very much 
like tho first classification of languages into one's own 
language and the languages of the rest of the world ; 
as the Greeks would say, into the languages of the 


the Barbarians ; or, as the Jews would 
say, into the languages of the Jews and th j Sentiles ; 
or, as the Hindus would say, in to* the languages of 1 the 
Aryas aftd Mleftfc&as ; oy, as the Chinese would $y, 
into the languages of tbe Middle Empire and t*hat of 
the Outer* Barbarians. I need tfot^say why that sort 
of classification fe useless for scientific purposes. 

There is another classification, apparently of A more 
scientific character, but if examined more closely, 
equally worthless to the* student of religion* I mean 
the well-known division into revealed and natural 

I have first to say a few words on the meaning 
attached to natural Religion. That word is constantly 
used in very different acceptations. It is applied by 
several writers to certain historical forms of religion, 
whiclf are looked upon as not resting on the authority 
of revelation, in whatever sense that word may be 
hereafter interpreted. Thus Buddhism would be & 
natural religion in the eyes of the Brahmans, Brah- 
manism would be a natural religion in the eyes of 
the Mohammedans. With us, all religions except 
Christianity and, though in a lesser degree, Mosaism, 
would be classed as merely natural; and though 
natural does not imply false, yet it distinctly implies 
the absence of any sanction beyond the sense of truth, 
or the voice of conscience that is within us. 

But Natural Beligion is also used in a very dif- 
ferent senlo, particularly by the philosophers of the 
last century* When people began to subject the 
principal historical religions to & critical analysis, 
they found that after removing what was peculiar 
to each, there remained certain principles which they 


all shared in common. These were suppose>i*to be 
the principles of Natural Religion. 

Again, when everything that seemed supernatural, 
mi^culous, and irrational, bad been removed from 
the p^ges of the New Testament, there still remained 
a kind of skeleton ofrreligion, and this too was passed 
off under the name of Natural Religicm. 

DuMg the last century, philosophers who were 
opposing the spread of scepticism and infidelity, 
thought that this kin4 of natural, or, as it was also 
called, rational religion, might serve an a breakwater 
against utter unbelief; but their endeavours loci to 
no* result. When Diderot said that all revealed re- 
ligions were tho heresies of Natural Religion, ho 
meant by Natural Eeligion a Jbody of truths im- 
planted in human nature, to bo discovered by the 
eye of reason alone, and independent of an^ such 
historical or local influences as give to each roligion 
its peculiar character and individual aapuct, Tho 
existence of a dotty, the nature of MB attributes, 
Buch as Omnipotences Onminek'nco, Omnipresence, 
Eternity, Htdf-exiskmec, Spirituality, tho Goodness 
also of the Deity, and, connected with it, the ad- 
mission of an absolwto distinction between Good and 
Evil, between Virtue and Vice, all thisT and according 
to some writers, tho Unity and PorHonality also of the 
Deity, were included in the? domain of Natural Re- 
ligion. Tho scientific treatment of this so-called 
Natural Religion received^ the name of NafUraJ Theo- 
logy, a, title rendered famous in tho beginning of our 
century by tho much praincd $uid much abused work 
of Paloy, 

Natural Eeligion corresponds in the science of 


religiof^o what in the science of language used to 
be called Grammaire generate, a collection o funda- 
mental rules which were supposed to be seff-evidant, 
and indispensable in every grammar, but whicb, 
strange to say, never e2yst in their purity and* com- 
pleteness to any language that -is or ever has been 
spoken tf>y human beings. It iS the same with 
religion. There never has been any real rejigfion, 
consisting exclusively of the pure and simple tenets 
of Natural Religion, thcfagh thgre have been certain 
philosophers who brought themselves to believe that 
their religion was entirely rational, was, in fact, pure 
and simple Deism. 

If we speak, therefore, of a classification of all 
historical religions into revealed and natural, what 
is meant by*naturat is simply the negation of re- 
vealed? and if we tried to carry out the classification 
practically, we should find the same result as before. 
We should have on one side Christianity alone, or, 
according to some theologians, Christianity and Ju- 
daism ; on the other, all the remaining religions of the 

This classification, therefore, whatever may be its 
practical value, is perfectly usele^ for scientific pur- 
poses* A mor extended study shows us very soon 
that the claim of revelation is sot up by the founders, 
or if not by them, at all events by the later preachers 
and advocates of most religions ; and would therefore 
be decline* by all but ourselves as a distinguishing 
feature of Christianity and Uudaism, We shall 000, 
in fact, that the claims to a revealed authority are 
urged far more stronger and elaborately by the be- 
lievers in the Veda, than by the apologetical theolo* 


gians among Jews and Christians, Even /ifuddha, 
originally the most thoroughly human and self-de- 
pendent among ttfe founders of religion, is by a 
sfcpange kind of inconsistency represented? in later 
controversial writings, as in possession of revealed 
truth 1 . He himself could not, like Numa or Zoro- 
aster, or Mohammed 3 , claim communication with 
higher spirits; still less could he, like the poets of 
the Veda, speak of divine inspirations and god-given 
utterances: for according lo him there was none 
among the spirits greater or wiser than himself, and 
the gods of the Veda had become his servants and 
worshippers. Buddha himself appoaln only to whafc 
we should call the inner light 3 / When he delivered 
for the first time the four fundamental doctrines of 
his system, he said, * Mendicants, for i&6 attainment 
of these previously unknown doctrines, the ^o, the 
knowledge, the wisdom, the clear perception, the light 
were developed within me/ He wan called Sarva///?a 
or omniflciont by his earlioBt pupils ; but when in later 
times, it was soen that on several points Buddha had 
but spokea-4ho language of his age, and had shared 
the errors current among his contemporaries with 
regard to the shapa of the earth and the movement 
of the heavenly bodies, an important" concession w$s 
made by Buddhist theologians* They limited the 
meaning of the word 'omniscient,' as applied to 
Buddha, to a knowledge of the principal doctrines 
of his system, and concerning these, but*these only, 

1 'History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature,* by Max MUllw, p. 83. 
* Sprenger, ' Mohammad/ vol. ii, p. 496, 
9 Gogerly, 'The Evidences And Pootrioti of Christian 
Colombo, x 86a, Parti 


they cltqlared him to have been infallible. This may 
seem to Ije a late, and almost modern view, but whe- 
ther modern or ancient, it certainly reflects "great Cre- 
dit on the Buddhist ^heologians. In the Milin$a 
Prasna, however, whicl* is a canonical book, we see 
that the same idea was already rising in the mind of 
the grett Nagasena. Being asked by King Milinda 
whether Buddha is omniscient, he replies : * Yes, Great 
King, the blessed Buddha is omniscient. But JBuddha 
does not at all times Sxercis^, his omniscience. By 
meditation ho knows all things ; meditating he knows 
everything he desires to know/ In this reply a dis- 
tinction is evidently intended between subjects that 
may bo known by Sense and reason, and subjects that 
can be known by meditation only. Within the do- 
main of sense and reason, "N&gaHena does not claim 
omniSeieneo or infallibility for Buddha, but ho claims 
for him both omniscience and infallibility hi all that 
is to be perceived by meditation only, or, as wo should 
say, in matters of faith. 

I shall have to explain to you hereafter the extra- 
ordinary contrivances by which tho Brajimans endea* 
voured to eliminate every human element from the 
hymns of tho Voda, and to establish, not only the 
^revealed, but*tho pro-historic or oven ante-mundane 
character of their scriptures. No apologetic writers 
have ever carried the theory of revelation to greater 

In the present stage of our inquiries! all that I wish 
to point out is this, that when the founders or de* 
fenders of nearly all Jjbe religions of the world appeal 
to some kind of revelation in support of the truth of 
their doctrines, it could answer no useful purpose were 


we to attempt any classification on such 
ground.^ Whether the claim of a natural or preter- 
natpral revelation, put forward by nearly all reli- 
gions, is well founded or not, is not the question at 
preSent. It falls to the pro^nce of Theoretic Theo- 
logy to explain the trjjie meaning of revelaticfa, for few 
words have been Used so vaguely and in H* many 
different senses. It falls to its province to explain, 
not only how the veil was withdrawn that intercepted 
for a time the rays of divine truth, but, what is a far 
more difficult problem, how there could ever have 
been a veil between truth and the seeker of truth, 
between the adoring heart and the object of the 
highest adoration, between the Father and his chil- 

In Comparative Theology our task is different: wo 
have simply to deal with tho facts such as w# find 
them. If people regard their religion aa revealed, it 
IB to them a revealed religion, and hu& to bo treated 
aa such by every impartial hmtorian. 

But thin principle of dnHificafcion into revoalwl and 
natural roligionB appuarn atili more faulty, wht*n wo 
Jook at it from another point of view. Kvon if wo 
granted that all religipiiH, except Christianity and Mo- 
saiara, derived their origin from those faculties of th& 
mind only which, according to Paley, arc sufficient by 
themselves for calling into life tha fundamental toneU 
of what wo explained before as natural religion, the 
clarification of Christianity and Judaism on one ido 
as rpw.<x??J t and of the other religions as natural, 
would slJlll l>o ddfoctivo, for tho simple reason that no 
religion, though founded on revelation, can over be 
entirely separated from natural religion. Tho tenets 


of natural religion, though they never constituted by 
themselveg a real historical religion, supply the only 
ground on which even revealed religions can stand, 
the only. soil where they can strike root, and from 
which they can receive nourishment and life. If Ve 
took awa$ that soil, or if we supposed that it, too, 
had to b$ supplied hy revelation', wo should not only 
run counter to the letter and spirit of the Old andthe 
New Testament, but we should degrade revealed reli- 
gion by changing it into a mere formula, to be ac- 
cepted by a recipient incapable of questioning, weigh-* 
ing, and appreciating ita truth ; we should indeed have 
the germ, but we should have thrown away the con- 
genial soil in which alone the germs of revealed truth 
can live and grow. 

Christianity, addressing itself not only to the Jews, 
but ateo to the Gentiles, not only to the ignorant, but 
also to the learned, not only to the believer, but, in 
the first instance, to the unbeliever, prenupposed in all 
of them the elements of natural religion, and with 
them the power of choosing between truth and un- 
truth* Thus only could St. Paul say: * Prove all 
things, hold fast that which is good/ ( i Ttheas, v, at.) 

The same is true with regard tj the Old Testament. 
There, too, thoboliof in a Doity, and in Homo at least 
of its indefeasible attributes, is taken for granted, and 
tho prophets who call the wayward Jews back to the 
worship of Jehovah, appeal to them as competent by 
the truth-testing power that is within them, to choose 
between Jehovah and the gods of the Gentiles, be- 
tween truth and untruth. Thus Joshua gathered all 
the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the 
elders of Israel, and for their heads, and for their 


judges, and for their officers; and they 
themselves before God. 

'.And Joshua said unto all the^people : Thus saith 
the Lord God of Israel: Y$ur fathers dweit on the 
other* side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the 
father of Abraham, *ind the father of Nachor: and 
they served other "gods.' 

jn$ then, after reminding them of all that God has 
done for them, he concludes by saying: 

'Now, therefore, fear the *Lorci, and serve him in 
sincerity and in truth ; and put away the gods which 
your fathers served on the other side of the ilood, and 
inJEgypt, and serve ye the Lord. 

'And if it seem ovil unto you* to servo the Lord, 
choose ymi this 'day whom ye wiy nerve; whether the 
gods which your fathers served that *wero on tho 
other side of the flood, or tho gods of the AmorTtes in 
whose lands ye dwell ; but as for mo and my house, 
wo will servo tho Lord/ 

In order to choose between different gods anjj dif- 
ferent forms of faith, a man must possess the faculty of 
choosing, theanstrurnents of testing truth and untruth, 
whether revealed or not : ho must know that certain 
fundamental tenets cannot be absent in any true reli- 
gion, and thut thero are doctrines agrflnat which hfc 
rational or moral conscience revolts as incompatible 
with truth. In short, there must be the foundation of 
religion, there must bo tho solid rock, before it is pos- 
sible to erect an altar, a temple, or a chufth : and if 
we call r that foundation natural religion, it is clear 
that no revealed religion can bethought of which does 
not rest more or less firmly on natural religion. 

These difficulties have been felt distinctly by some 


of outmost learned divines, who have attempted 
various Classifications of religions from their own 
point of view. New definitions* of natural religion 
have therefore beefi proposed in order to avoid the 
overlapping of the two definitions of natural and Re- 
vealed religion 1 . Natural religion has, for instance, 
been explained as the religion of/hature before revela- 
tion, such as may be supposed to have existed ann>ng 
the patriarchs, or to exist still among primitive people 
who have not yet been^ enlightened by Christianity 
or debased by idolatry* 

According to this view we should have to distin- 
guish not two, but three classes of religion : the pri* 
mitive or natural, the debased or idolatrous, and the 
revealed. But, as pointed oiit before, the first, the 
so-called priinitivo tfr natural religion, exists in the 
mindfibof modern philosophers rather than of ancient 
poets and prophets. History never tollw us of any 
race with whom tho simple feeling of reverence for 
l^gher powers was not hidden under mythological 
disguliisr Nor would it be possible even thus to 
separate the three classes of religion by sharp and 
definite lines of demarcation, because botfi the debased 
or idolatrous and tho purified or revealed religions 
would of necessity include within themselves tho 
Cements of natural religion. 

Nor do we diminish these difficulties in tho classifi- 
catory stage of our science if, in tho place of this 
simple natural religion, we admit with other theolo- 
gians and philosophers, a universal primeval revela- 
tion. This universal primeval revelation Is only 
another name for naftiral religion, and it rests on 

1 8de Profeisor Jowett's * Eswiy oa Natural Religion,* p. 458* 


no authority but the. speculations of philosophers. 
The same class of philosophers, considering^hat Ian- 
gujige wfi,s too wonderful an achievement for the 
human mind, insisted on the necessity of admitting a 
universal primeval language, revealed directly by 
God to men, or rather to niute beings; while the 
more thoughtful toS the more reverent among the 
Fathers of the Church, and among the founders of 
modern philosophy also pointed out that it was more 
consonant with the general* working of an all- wise 
and all-powerful Creator, that he should have en- 
dowed human nature with the essential conditions of 
speech, instead of presenting mute beings with gram- 
mars and dictionaries ready-mad*. Is an infant less 
wonderful than a man 1 ? an acorn less wonderful than 
an oak tree? a cell, including potentially within itself 
all that it has to become hereafter, less wonderful than 
all the moving creatures that have life? The same 
applies to religion. A. universal primeval religion re- 
vealed direct by God to man, or rather to a crowd of 
atheists, may, to our human wisdom, seem the best 
solution of rt all difficulties : but a higher wisdom 
speaks to us from out the realities of history, and 
teaches us, if we -vyjll but learn, that 'we have all to 
feeek the Lord, if haply we may feel <after him, and 
find him, though he be not far from every one of us.** 
Of the hypothesis of a universal primeval reve- 
lation and all its self-created difficulties we shall have 
to speak again : for the present it must aaffice if we 
have shown that the problem of a scientific classifica- 
tion of "religions is not brought nearer to its solution 
by the additional assumption of another purely hypo* 
class of religions. 


Another apparently mote scientific classification id 
that wifrnational and individual religions, the former 
comprehending religions the founders of Winch .are 
unknown to us as fcey were to those who believed px 
them; the latter comprehending religious systlma 
which bear the names of those by whom they were 
Buppose<J to have been originally planned or esta- 
blished. To the former class, speaking only of the 
religions with which we are most familiar, \"ould 
belong those of the ancient Brahmans, the Greeks, 
Eomans, Teutons, Slaves, and* Celts; to the latter 
those of Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Confucius, Lao-tse, 
Christ, and Mohammed. 

This division, however, though easily applied in a 
general way, and useful for certain purposes, fails us 
as soon as w$ attempt to apply it in a more critical 
spirit* It is quite true that neither a Brahman, nor a 
Greek, nor a Roman would have known what to 
answer when asked, who was the founder of his re-* 
ligion, who first declared the existence of Indra, Zeus, 
or Jupiter; but the student of antiquity can still dis- 
cover in the various forms which the ancient Aryan 
worship has assumed in India, Greece, and Italy, the 
influence of individual minds orj&chools. If, on the 
other hand, we ask the founders of so-called indi- 
vidual religions, whether their doctrine is a new one, 
-whether they preach a new God, we almost always 
receive a negative answer. Confucius emphatically 
asserts th%b he was a transmitter, not & maker; 
Buddha delights in representing himself #s * w&t& 
link in a long chain of enlightened teacheraf Christ 
declares that he came to fulfil, not to destroy the L$w 
or the Prophets; and even Mohammed insisted on 


tracing his faith back to Ibr&hym, i.e. Abrahgim, the 
friend of God, whom he called a Moslim, afod not a 
Jew or Christian, (Koran iii. 60,) and who, He main* 
tained, had founded the temple at Mekka *. To de- 
teiflnine how much is peculiar to the supposed founder 
of a religion, how much he received from 4u's prede- 
cessors, and how mu8h was added by his disciples, is 
almost impossible; nay, it is perfectly true that no 
religicJn has ever struck root and lived, unless it found 
a congenial soil from which to draw its real strength 
and support. If they find such a soil, individual re- 
ligions have a tendency to develope into universal 
religions, while national creeds remain more exclusive, 
and in many cases are even opposed to all missionary 
propaganda 2 . 

We have not finished yet. very important and, 
for certain purposes, very useful classification has 
been that into polytheistic, dualistic, and monotheistic 
religions. If religion rests chiefly on a belief in a 
Higher Power 9 then the nature of that Higher Power 
would seem to supply the most characteristic feature 
by which to classify the religions of the world. Nor 
do I deny Siat for certain, purposes such a classifica- 
tion has proved useful: all I maintain is that we 
should thus have to class togetherreligions most 
heterogeneous in other respects, though agreeing In 
the number of their deities- Besides, it would cer- 
tainly be necessary to add two other classes the 
henothewtic and the atheistic. Henotheistic religions 
differ from polytheistic because, although they recog- 

1 Sprenger, 'Mohammad,' vol. iii. ppf 49, 489. 
a See 'Hibbert Lectures/ by Professor Kuenen, 1882. 'National 
[Religions and Universal Religions.' 


nise th^ existence of various deities, or names of 
deities, they represent each deity as independent of 
all the rest, as the only deity present in the* mind of 
the worshipper at thfc time of his worship and prayer. 
This character is most prominent in the religion of tfte 
Vedic poeti. Although *many gods are invoked in 
different hymns, sometimes alsofcufche same hymn, 
yet there'is no rule of precedence established among 
them ; and, according to the varying aspects of nftturej 
and the varying cravings of the human heart, it is 
sometimes Indra, the god of the*blue sky, sometimes 
Agni, the god of fire, sometimes Varuna, the ancient 
god of the firmament, that are praised as supreme 
without any suspicion of rivalry, or any idea of 
subordination. This peculiar phase of religion, this 
worship of single gods, forms probably everywhere 
the firji stage in the growth of polytheism, and de- 
serves therefore a separate name \ 

As to atheistic religions, they might seem to be per- 
fectly impossible ; and yet the fact cannot be disputed 
away that the religion of Buddha was from the be- 
ginning purely atheistic. The idea of the Godhead, 
after it had been degraded by endless mythological 
absurdities which struck and repelled the heart of 
Buddha, was, fop a time at least, entirely expelled 
fro*m the sanctuary of the human mind : and the 
highest morality that was ever taught before the rise 
of Christianity was taught by men with whom the 
gods had b^some mere phantoms, without any aitais, 
not even an altar to the Unknown God. 

It will be the object of my next lecture tc^sfeow 

1 ' Hiatory of Ajooieut Sanskrit literature ' by Max MUUer, second 
edition, p, 532. ' Hibbert Lectures/ p. 236. 



that the only scientific and truly genetic classification 
of religions is tliB same as the classification of Ian- 1 
guages, and that, particularly in the early Instory of 
the human intellect, there exisft the most intimate 
relationship between language, religion, and nation- 
alitya relationship quite independent ofrthose phy- 
sical elements, thelblood, the skull, or the hair, on 
wMch ethnologists have attempted to found their 
classification of the human race. 


MABOH 5, iS/O. 

IF we approached the religions f mankind without 
any prejudices or predilections, in that frame of 
mind in which the lover of truth or the man of 
science ought to approach every subject, I believe w6 
should not be long before recognising the natural 
lines of demarcation which divide the whole religious 
world injo sevefal great continents. I am speaking, 
of course, of ancient religions only, or of the earliest 
period in tiie history of religious thought. In that 
primitive period which might be {sailed, if act prehi0- 
toxic, at least jmnely ethnic, because what we ko&tr 
of it -consists only in the general movements of na- 
tions, and not in the acts of individuals, of parties, or 
of states in that primitive period, I say, nations 
have been called languages; and ifl our best works 
ozt the ancient history of mankind, a map of lan- 
guages now takes the place of a map of nations. 
But during the same primitive period nations mighrti 
with equal right be called religions ; for there is *fc 
that time the same, nay, an even more intimate, 
lationship between Teligion and JiationaMty 
.between language and nationality. 

In order clearly to explain my meaning, I shall 
have to rrfei; as shortly AS possible, to the specular 

a % 


tions of some German philosophers on the true rela- 
tion 4q|;ween language, religion, and nationality 
speculations whicfi. have as yet Deceived less attention 
n the part of modem ethnologists than they seem to 
me to deserve. 

It was Scheming, one of the proloundest thinkers 
of Germany, who first asked the question, What 
makes an ethnosl What is the true origin of a 
people? How did human beings become a people? 
And the answer which he gave, though it sounded 
startling to me when, in 1845, 1 listened, at Berlin, to 
the lectures of the old philosopher, has been confirmed 
^nore and more by subsequent researches into the 
history of language and religion. 

To say that man is a gregarious animal, and that, 
like swarms of bees, or herds of wilft elephants, men 
keep together instinctively, and thus form themselves 
into a people, is saying very little. It might explain 
the agglomeration of one large flock of human beings, 
but it would never explain the formation of peoples 
possessing the consciousness of their national indivi- 

Nor should we advance much towards a solution of 
our problem, if we were told that men break up into 
peoples as bees break up into swarms, by following 
different queens, by owing allegiance to different go- 
vernments^ Allegiance to the same government, par- 
ticularly in ancient times, is the result rather than 
the cause of nationality; while in historical times, 
suet has been the confusion produced by extraneous 
influences, by brute force, ar .dynastic ambition, that 
the natural development of peoples has been entirely 
Arrested, and we frequently find one and the same 


people divided by different governments, and different 
peoples united under the same ruler. 

Our question, What makes a people? ha** <x> be 
considered in reference to the most ancient times, 
How did men form themselves into a people bafoft, 
there were 'kings or shepherds of men? Was it 
through community of blood? doubt it. Com- 
munity of blood produces families, clans, possibly 
races, but it does not produce that higher and pSrely 
moral feeling which binds men together and makes 
them a people. 

It is language and religion that make a people, but 
religion is even a more powerful agent than language. 
The languages of maay of the aboriginal inhabitants 
of Northern America are but dialectic varieties of one 
type, but thos^ who spoke these dialects seem never 
to have*coalesced into a people. They remained mere 
clans or wandering tribes, and even their antagonism 
to foreign invaders did not call out the sense of a 
national coherence and unity among them, because 
they were without that higher sense of unity which 
is called forth, or, at all events, strengtiiened, by 
worshipping the same god or gods. The Greeks 1 , 
on the contrary, though speakigg their strongly 
marked, and I doubt whether mutually intelligible 
dialects, the MQ&G, the Doric, the Ionic s felt them- 
selves at all times, even when ruled by different 
tyrants, or broken up into numerous republics, *& 
one great Hellenic people. What was it, tbe$ 

viil 144 ASri^ rl 

6Sw topSfurrt. r mt > 

t'Atopaiew <&*&*&$%<*. See ' Bdiab. BeviOTT,* 1874, 

P- 433- 


preserved in their hearts, in spite of dialects/bi spite 
of dynasties, in spite even of the feuds of tribes and 
the jealdusies of states, the deep^ feeling of that ideal 
jonity which constitutes^ jeople? It was their pri- 
mitwe religion ; it was a. dim recollection of the 
common allegiance they owed from time Immemorial 
to the great fafoef* of gods and men; it^was their 
beiief in the old Zeus of Dodona, the Panhellenie 

Perhaps the most signal-confirmation of this view 
that it is religion even more than language which 
supplies the foundation of nationality, is to be found 
in the history of the Jews, the chosen people of God. 
The language of the Jews differed from that of the 
Phenicians, the Moabites, and other neighbouring 
tribes much less than the <Jreek dialects differed 
from each other. But the worship of Jehovdh made 
the Jews a peculiar people, the people of Jehovah, 
separated by their God, though not ty their Ian* 
guage, from the people of Chemosh (the Moabites 1 ) 
and from the worshippers of Baal and Ashtoreth. 
It was their faith in Jehovah that changed the 
wandering tribes of Israel into a nation. 

C A people/ as Spelling says, 'exists only when it 
has determined itself with regard to it& mythology. 
This mythology, therefore, cannot take its origin 
after a national separation has taken place, after. 
a people has become a people: nor could it spring 
up while a people was still contained as*an invisible 
part in the whole of humanity; but its origin must 
be referred to that very period of transition before 

Numb, ro. 29 ; Jeremiah xlviii. 7 : ' And Ohemoah shall go forth 
Into captivity, with his priests and his princes together.' 

LECJTUBE in. 87 

a peoplfe has assumed its definite existence, and when 
it is on th^ point of separating and constituting itself. 
The same applies to the language of a people; it 
becomes definite at the same time that a people be? 
comes definite 1 .' 

Hegel, tBe great rival of Schelling, arrived at the 
same contusion. In his Philoi&pKy of History he 
says : c The idea of God constitutes the general founda- 
tion of a people. Whatever is the form of a religion, 
the same is the form of la state,, and its constitution: 
it springs from religion, so much so that the Athenian 
and the Eoman states were possible only with the 
peculiar heathendom of those peoples, and that ev#n 
now a Eoman Catholic state has a different genius 
and a different constitution from a Protestant state. 
The genius of *a people is a definite, individual genius 
which^becomes conscious of its individuality in dif- 
ferent spheres : in the character of its moral life, its 
political constitution, its art, religion and science 2 / 

But this is not an idea of philosophers only. His- 
torians, and, more particularly, the students of the 
history of law, have arrived at very mu$i the same 
conclusion. Though to many of them law seems 
naturally to be the foundation *>f society, and the 

1 ' Vorlesungen uber Philosophic der Mythologie/ vol, i. p. 107 seq. 

* Though these words of Hegel's were published long before 
Schelling's lectures, they seem to me to breathe the spirit of Sohelling 
rather than of Hegel, and it is but fair therefore to state that Schelling's 
lectures, though not published, were printed and circulated among 
friends twenty years before they were delivered at Berlin. 1&& 
question of priority may seem of little importance m Baatto* tfu&b a* 
these, but there is nevertheless much truth in. Schema **^ tfe* 
philosophy advances not so ttoch by the aagwes* gtvea to difficult 
problems, as by the starting of new problems, and by asking questions 
which no one else would think of asking. 


bond that binds a nation together, those wrfo look 
below ihe surface have quickly perceived^ that law 
itself, at least ancfent law, derives its authority, its 
foj;ce, its very life, from religion. Sir H. Maine is no 
doubt right when, in the case of the so-called Laws 
of Manu, he rejects the idea of the Deity dictating an 
entire code or body of law, as an idea of a Decidedly 
modem origin. Yet the belief that the law-giver 
enjoyed some closer intimacy with the Deity than 
ordinary mortals, pervades the ancient traditions of 
many nations. Thus Diodorus Siculus (1. i. c. 94), 
tells us that the Egyptians believed their laws to 
have been communicated to Mnevis by Hermes ; the 
Cretans held that Minos receivecT his laws from Zeus, 
the Lacedaemonians that Lykurgos received his laws 
from Apollon. According to the Ariafts, their law- 
giver, Zathraustes, had received his laws from the 
Good Spirit; according to the Getse, Zamolxis re- 
ceived his laws from the goddess Hestia; and, ac- 
cording to the Jews, Moses received his laws from the 
god lao. 

No one has pointed out more forcibly than Sir H. 
Maine that in ancient times religion as a divine 
influence was underlying and supporting every re- 
lation of life and every social institution. ' A super- 
natural presidency,' he writes, 'is supposed to con- 
secrate and keep together all the cardinal institutions 
of those early times, the state, the race, and the family* 
(p. 6). 'The elementary group is the family; the 
aggregation of families forms the gens or the house. 
The aggregation of houses makes the tribe. The 
aggregation of tribes constitutes the commonwealth' 
(p. ia8). Now the family is held together by the 


familyWcra (p, 191), and so were the gens, the tribe, 
and the bommonwealth ; and strangers could~only be 
admitted to these Brotherhoods tfy being admitted to 
their aawa (p. 13 1) 1 . &t >& later time, law breaks 
away from religion (p. 193), but even then many 
traces remain to sh&w that the hearth was the first 
altar, thft father the first elder, 4is 'wife and children 
and slaves the first congregation gathered together 
round the sacred fire the Hestia, the goddess of the 
house, and in the end the goddess of the people. To 
the present day, marriage, one of the most important 
of civil acts, the very foundation of civilised life, has 
retained something of the religious character which* it 
had from the very beginning of history. 

Let us see now ^yhat religion really is in those 
early ages of ' v which we are here speaking : I do not 
mean religion as a silent power^ working in the heart 
of man; I mean religion in its outward appearance, 
religion as something outspoken, tangible, and de- 
finite, that can be described and communicated to 
others. We shall find that in that sense religion 
lies within a very small compass. A^few words, 
recognised as names of the deity; a few epithets that 
have been raised from their material meaning to a 
higher and mSre spiritual stage, I mean words 
which expressed originally bodily strength, or bright- 
ness, or purity, and which gradually had come to 
mean greatness, goodness, and holiness ; lastly, some 

1 A very different opinion is held by Varro. 'Varro propterea m 
prius de rebus humanis, de divinis autem postea scripsiase ifcestatur, 
quod prius extiterint civitatee, deinde ab eis haso institute aint . , . . 
sicut prior eat, inquit, pietor quam tabula picta, prior &ber quam 
fcdifioium: ita priores emit oivitates quam ea qua a oivitatibus 
inatituta sunt. 1 (August. ' Civ. Dei,' 6. 4). 


more or leas technical terms expressive of suclf ideas 
as sacrifice, altar, prayer, possibly virtue ^and sin, 
body and Spirit this is what constitutes the outward 
framework of the incipient religions of antiquity. If 
we look at these simple manifestations of religion, we 
see at once why religion, during *those earfy ages of 
which we are here* speaking, may really and^bruly be 
calle r d g sacred dialect of human speech ; how at all 
events early religion and early language are most 
intimately connected, ^religioii depending entirely for 
its outward expression on the more or less adequate 
resources of language. 

And if this dependence of early religion on language 
is once clearly understood, it follows, as a matter of 
course, that whatever classification has "been found 
most useful in, the Science of Language ought to 
prove equally useful in the Science of Beligidn. If 
there is a truly genetic relationship of languages, the 
same relationship ought to hold together the religions 
of the world, at least the most ancient religions 

Before we proceed therefore to consider the proper 
classification of religions, it will be necessary to say 
it few words on the present state of our knowledge 
viih regard to the genetic relationship of languages. 

If we confine ourselves to the Asiatic continent 
with its ijnportant peninsula of Europe, we find that 
in the vast desert of drifting human speech three, and 
only three, oases have been formed in which, before 
the beginning of all history, language became per- 
manen^ and traditional, assumed in fact a new 
character, a character totally 4iSerent from the ori- 
ginal character of the floating and constantly varying 
speech of human beings. These three oases of Ian- 

LEOTUBU m. 91 

are known by the name of Turanian, Semitic, 
and Artywi. . In these three centres, more particularly 
in the Aryan and Semitic, language ce&sed to be 
natural; its growth, was . arrested, and it became 
permanent, solid, petrified, or, if you like, historical 
speech. *I have always maintained that this cen- 
tralisati^n and traditional conservation of language 
could only have been the result of religious* and 
political influences, and I now intend to show that 
we really have dear eVidence t of three independent 
settlements of religion, the Turanian, the Semitic, and 
the Aryan, concomitantly with the three great settle- 
ments of language. 

Taking Chinese for what it can hardly any longer 
be doubted that it is, viz. the earliest representative 
of Turanian* speech, we find in China an ancient 
colouf less and unpoetical religion, a religion we might 
almost venture to call monosyllabic, consisting of the 
worship of a host of single spirits, representing the 
sky, the sun, storms and lightning, mountains aad 
rivers, one standing by the side of the other without 
any mutual attraction, without any higher principle 
to hold them together. In addition to this, we like- 
wise meet in China with the worship of ancestral 
spirits, the spirits of the departed, who &re supposed 
to retain, some cognisance of human affairs, and to 
possess peculiar powers which they exercise for good 
or for evil. This double worship of hmawn aad of 
natural sjSrits constitutes the old popular r$Hgi$ of 
China* aad it has lived on to the preset d*y^ftfc &aet 
in the lower ranks q sxxsiefey, though, ifeee twers 
above it a more elevated range of hall religious and 
half philosophical faith, $ baUaf ia two higher Powers 


which, in the language of philosophy, 
and Matter, in the language of Ethics* Qkod and 
JW/j but which in the original language of religion 
andjnythology are represented as Heaven and Earth. 

It is'true that we know the ancient popular religion 
of China from the works of Confttcius onl/, or from 
even more modern sources. But Confucius,* though 
he is*c^led the founder of a new religion, was really 
but the new preacher of an old religion. He was 
emphatically a transmitter, not a maker 1 . He says of 
himself, c I only hand on ; I cannot create new things. 
I believe in the ancients, and therefore I love them 2 / 

"We find, secondly, the ancient worship of the Se- 
mitic races, clearly marked by a rtumber of names of 
the Deity, which appear in the pplytheistic religions 
of the Babylonians, the Phenicians, and Carthaginians, 
as well as in the monotheistic creeds of Jews, (Chris- 
tians, and Mohammedans. It is almost impossible to 
characterise the religion of people so different from 
each other in language, in literature, and general 
civilisation, so different also from themselves at dif- 
ferent periods of their history ; but if I ventured to 
characterise the worship of all the Semitic nations by 
one word, I should say it was pre-eminently a wor- 
ship of God in History, of God as affecting the des^ 
tinies of individuals and races and nations rather than 
of God as wielding the powers of nature. The names 
of the Semitic deities are mostly words expressive of 
moral qualities ; they mean the Strong, the Exalted a 
the Lor<J, the King ; and they grow but seldom into 
divine personalities, definite in tfceir outward appear- 

1 See Dr. Legge, f Life of Confucius,' p. 96. 

8 liun-yu ( i. a) ; Schott, 'Chiaeaiscta Literatur,' p. jr. 

IB. 68 

&nceV>r easily to be recognised by strongly marked 
features\of f> real dramatic character. Hence many 
of the ancient Semitic gods have a tendency to run 
together, and a transition ^from the worship of single 
gods to the worship 5? o'ne God required ng great 
effort. In the monotonous desert, more particularly, 
the worship of single gods glidf d away almost imper- 
ceptibly into the worship of one God. If I wre to 
add, as a distinguishing mark, that the Semitic reli- 
gions excluded the feminine gender in their names 
of the Deity, or that all their female deities were only 
representatives of the active energies of older and 
sexless gods, this would be true of some only, not of 
all ; and it would* require nearly as many limitations 
as the statement of M. Kenan, that the Semitic re- 
ligions wer$ instinctively monotheistic 1 , 

"We find lastly the ancient worship of the Aryan 
race carried to the most distant corners of the earth 
by its adventurous sons, and easily recognised, whether 
in the valleys of India or in the forests of Germany, 
by the common names of the Deity, all originally ex- 
pressive of natural powers. Their worship is not, as 
has been so often said, a worship of nature. But if it 
had to be characterised by one yord, I should venture 
to call it a worship of God in Nature, of God as ap- 
pearing behind the gorgeous veil of Nature, rather 
than as hidden behind the veil of the sanctuary of 
the human heart. The gods of the Aryan pantheon 
assume an individuality so strongly marked and peer* 
manent, that with the Aryans, a transition* to mono- 
theism required a powerful struggle, and selclom took 

1 See my essay on * Semitic Monotheism,' in ' Chips from a Gorman 
Workshop, ' vol. i. pp. 342 380. 


effect without iconoclastic revolutions or philosophical 

These 'three classes of religion are not to be mis- 
taken, as little as the three classes of language, the 
Turanian, the Semitic, and tlje Aryan. They mark 
three events in the most ancient history of iftie world, 
events which have* deiermined the whole fatg of the 
human race, and of which we ourselves still feel the 
consequences in our language, in our thoughts, and in 
our religion. 

But the chaos which these three leaders in language, 
thought, and religion, the Turanian, the Semitic, and 
the Aryan, left behind, was not altogether a chaos. 
The 'stream of language from whick these three chan- 
nels had separated, rolled on; the sacred fire of re- 
ligion from which these three altars had been lighted 
was not extinguished, though hidden in smoke* and 
ashes. There was language and there was religion 
everywhere in the world, but it was natural and wild* 
growing language and religion; it had no history, it 
left no history, and it is therefore incapable of that 
peculiar scientific treatment which has been found 
applicable to a study of the languages and the religions 
of the Chinese, the Semitic, and the Aryan nations. 

People wonder why the students of language have 
not succeeded in establishing more than three families 
of speech or rather two, for the Turanian can hardly 
be called a family, in the strict sense of that word, 
until it has been fully proved that Chinese forms tiro 
centre of the two Turanian branches, the North Tura- 
nian on one side, and the South Turanian on the 
other, that Chinese 1 forms, in fact, the earliest settle- 
1 See my 'Lecture on the Stratification of Language/ p. 4. 


ment\>f that unsettled mass of speech, which, at a 
later stage, became more fixed and traditional, 
in the north*, in Tungusic, Mongolia, TaAaric, and 
Mnnic, and in thtf south, in Taic, Malaic, Bhotiya* 
and Tainulic. 

The reason why scholars have discovered no more 
than these two or three great^fanailies of speech is 
very sirSple. There were no more, and we caanot 
make more. Families of languages are very jfeculiar 
formations ; they are, and they must be, the excep- 
tion, not the rule, in the growth of language. There 
was always the possibility, but there never was, as 
far as I can judge, any necessity for human speech 
leaving its primitive stage of wild growth and mid 
decay. If it had not been for what I consider a 
purely spontaneous act on the part of the ancestors of 
the Samitic, Aryan, and Turanian races, all languages 
might for ever have remained ephemeral, answering 
the purposes of every generation that comes and goes, 
struggling on, now gaining, now losing, sometimes 
acquiring a certain permanence, but after a season 
breaking up again, and carried away like blocks of 
ice by the waters that rise underneath the surface. 
Our very idea of language would then have been 
something totally different from what it is now. 

For what are we doing 1 

"We first form our idea of what language* ought to 
be from those exceptional languages which were 
arrested in* their natural growth by social, religious, 
political, or at all events by extraneous influences, 
and we then turn round and wonder why a*U Ian* 
guages are not like tnese two or three exceptional 
channels of speech. "We might as well wonder why 


all animals are not domesticated, or why, besides the 
garden anemone, there should be endless varieties of 
the same aower growing wild on the meadow and in 
the woods. 

li the Turanian class, i& tfhich the original concen- 
tration was never so powerful as in the Aryan and 
Semitic families, we $an still catch a glimpse of the 
natural growth of language, though confinefl within 
eertairf limits. The different settlements of this great 
floating mass of homogeneous speech do not show 
such definite marks t>f relationship as Hebrew and 
Arabic, Greek and Sanskrit, but only such sporadic 
coincidences and general structural similarities as can 
be 'explained by the admission of,a primitive concen- 
tration, followed by a new period of independent 
growth. It would be wilful blindness noi to recog- 
nise the definite and characteristic features which 
pervade the North Turanian languages : it would be 
impossible to explain the coincidences between Hun- 
garian, Lapponian, Esthonian, and Finnish, except on 
the supposition that there was a very early concen- 
tration of speech from which these dialects branched 
off* We see uiis less clearly in the South Turanian 
group, though I confess my surprise even here has 
always been, not that there should be go few, but that 
there should be even these few relics, attesting a 
former c8mmunity of these divergent streams of lan- 
guage. The point in which the South Turanian and 
North Turanian languages meet goes back as far as 
Chinese ; for that Chinese is at the root of Mandshu 
and Mongolian as well as of Siamese and Tibetan 
becomes daily more apparent through the researches 
of Mr* Edkins and other Chinese scholars. 


I rea5ily admit that there is no hurry for pronouno 
ing definitely qn these problems, and I am welljaware 
of what may be said against these wide generalisations 
affecting the 'origin of species' in language. My chief 
object in publishing, mor>*than twenty years ago, my 
Letter to Brflasen ' On the Turanian Languages/ in which 
these views were first put forward, w&s to counteract 
the dangerous dogmatic scepticism which at that time 
threatened to stop all freedom of research, ana all 
progress in the Science of Language. No method was 
then considered legitimate for a comparative analysis 
of languages except that which was, no doubt, the only 
legitimate method in treating, forinstance s the Romance 
languages, but was ot therefore the only possible 
method for a scientific treatment of all other lan- 
guages. No prpofs of relationship were then admitted 
even fof languages outside the pale of the Aryan and 
Semitic families, except those which had been found 
applicable for establishing the relationship between 
the various members of these two great families of 
speech. My object was to show that, during an earlier 
phase in the development of language, no such proofe 
ought ever to be demanded, because, from the nature 
of the case, they could not exisj>, while yet their 
absence would m no way justify us in denying the 
possibility of a more distant relationship. At present 
a complete change has taken place in the Science of 
Language, as in other branches of natural science. 
Owiog chiefly to the influence of the ideas which 
Darwin, has brought again into the foreground of aJl 
natural philosophy, students are now directfaag^thOT 
attention everywhere to the general rather than to 
the special. Every kind of change, under ihe name 


of development, seems now conceivable and/ admis- 
sible, and when all races of men have been traced 
back to one common source, and even beyond the 
level of humanity^ no difficulty Is felt any longer as 
ttf ijie possibility of a 'refationship between any of 
the so-called Turanian languages, nay, oA a common 
beginning for ail -varieties of human speech. This 
phase of thought in its extreme form wilf no doubt 
pass* 1 away like the former, but these oscillations 
should teach us at least .this one lesson that no 
dictatorial authorit/'should ever stop the progress of 
science, and that nothing is so dangerous as a belief 
in our own infallibility. 

^If we turn away from the Asiatic continent, the 
original home of the Aryan, the Semitic, and the 
Turanian languages, we find that in a Africa, too, a 
comparative study of dialects has clearly pioved a 
concentration of African speech, the results of which 
may be seen in the uniform B&ntu dialects, (Kafir, 
Setchuna, Damara, Otyiherero, Angola, Kongo, Ki- 
suah&i, etc.), spoken from the equator to the Keis- 
kamma \ North of this body of B&ntu or Kafir speech, 
we have an independent settlement of Semitic speech 
in the Berber and the Galla dialects ; south of it we 
have only the Hot? entot and Bushm^i tongues, which 
are now declared by Dr. Th. Hahn to be closely allied 
to each t>ther. Whether there is any real linguistic re- 
lationship between these languages in the South of 
Africa and the Nubian, and even the aacient Egyp- 
tian, and whether these languages were separated 

1 Bleek, ' Comparative Grammar ofrth South African Languages/ 
p. a. See also Dr. Bleek's 'Report concerning his Researches into the 
Bushman Language/ published in 1873. 


from each other by the intrusion of the Kafir tribes 
is a problem, the solution of which must be. left to 
the future. So much only is certain that tHe ancient 
Egyptian represents to us an independent primeval 
concentration of intellectual work in the country 
of the Ntte, independent, so far as we know at 
present, of the ancient .Aryan and Semitic concentra- 
tion of language and religion. 

But while the spoken languages of the African 
continent enable us to perceive in a general way the 
original articulation of the primitive population of 
Africa for there is a continuity in language which 
nothing can destroy we know, and can know, but 
little of the growth and decay of African religion. 
In many places Mohammedanism and Christianity 
have swept ^way every recollection of the ancient 
gods ; find even when attempts have been made by 
missionaries or travellers to describe the religious 
status of Zulus or Hottentots, they could only see the 
most recent forms of African faith, and these were 
but too often depicted in their ridiculous rather than 
in their serious character. It is here where_the theory 
of a primitive fetishism has done most mischief in 
blinding the eyes even of accurate observers as to 
anything that aiight lie beyond tne growth of fetish 
worship . 

The only African religion of which we possess 
ancient literary records is the religion of Egypt 
which has i*ng been a riddle to us, as it was to the 
Greeks and Romans, At last, however, the HgH is 
beginning to dawn on the darkest chambers Sf the 
ancient temples of Bgy^fc, and on the deepest recesses 
of the human heart, from which sprang both the belief 
H 3 


and the worship of the ancient gods. At first sight 
nothing seems more confused, perplexing; and un- 
promising than the religion of Egypt, exhibiting at 
one time a grovelling worship of animals, at another 
the highest flights of a mysterious wisdom. It can 
hardly be said that even now, after the decipherment 
of the ancient latfguage of Egypt, this strange contrast 
ha^ b^een entirely accounted for. Still no one can 
rise from the perusal of M. Le Page Renouf s excellent 
'Hibbert Lectures' without feeling convinced that there 
is reason in the religion of Egypt also, nay, that the 
growth of religious ideas there is wonderfully alike 
thp growth of religious ideas amongthe Aryan nations. 

The religion of the Egyptians was not from the first 
a mere worship of brutes, Egyptian zoolatry belonged 
to a period of decay, and was based upen symbols de- 
rived from mythology. Egyptian, like Aryan, tnytho- 
logy dealt originally with those phenomena of nature 
which are conspicuously the result of law, such as the 
rising and setting of the sun, the moon, and the 
stars : and a recognition of law and order as existing 
throughout the universe, underlies the whole system 
of Egyptian religion. Like the Sanskrit A'ta, the 
Egyptian "Ma&t, Derived from merely sensuous im- 
pressions, became in the end the nam8 for moral order 
and righteousness. 

But besides the several powers recognised in their 
mythology, most of which have now been traced back 
to a solar origin, the Egyptians from tne very first 
spoke of the One Power also, by whom the whole 
physical and moral government of the universe is 
directed, upon whom each individual depends, and to 
whom it is responsible. And lastly they paid honour 


to the departed, because death was considered as the 
beginning of a new life, a life that will never and. 

With all this, mythology, as an inevitable disease 
of language, was terribly Aggravated in Egypt by 
the early development of art and the forms which it 
assumed. *The Power which the Egyptians recogniseS 
without a^y mythological adjundb, to whom no temple 
was ever raised (as little as there was in India a, sanc- 
tuary dedicated to Para-Brahman, the Highest Brah- 
man), 'who was not graven on^stone/ 'whose shrine 
was never found with painted figures/ 'who had 
neither ministrants nor offerings,' and 'whose abode 
was unknown/ must practically have been forgotten 
by the worshippers* of the magnificent temples of 
Memphis, Heliopolis, Abydos, Thebes, or Dendera, 
where quite ether deities received the homage of 
prayer^ and praise, and sacrifice. Efforts, however, 
are visible, in Egypt as in India, to cling to the notion 
of the unity of God The 'self-existent, or self- 
becoming One, the One, the One of One, the One 
without a second' (as in Sanskrit, svayambhu, Ekam 
advitiyam), ' the Beginner of becoming, from the first, 
who made all things, but was not made/ are expres- 
sions constantly met with in the religious texts, and 
applied to this t>r that god (henotheistically), each in 
his turn being considered as the supreme Go4of gods, 
the Maker and Creator of all things. Thus Ba, origi- 
nally the sun, proceeding from Nu, 'the father of.tbp 
gods/ and limself the father of Shu (air) 
(dew), was worshipped as the supreme cele 

Osiris, the eldest of the five children of Seb 

and Nut (heaven), 'greater than his father, more 

powerful than his mother/ the husband of lais, the 


father of Horus, was another representation of the 
sun, conceived chiefly in his character- of conqueror 
of darkness (Set). B&, we read, e r is the soul of Osiris, 
anj. Osiris the soul of B&/, Horus again is a name 
of the sun, originally of the morning sun, 'whose eyes 
are restored at the dawn of da^/ Thoth i-epresente 
the moon, ' the measurer of the earth/ ' the distributor 
of time/ and, at last, the inventor of letters and arts. 
Truly does M. Le Page Renouf remark : e Sanskrit 
scholars who do not r know a word of Egyptian, and 
Egyptologists who do not know a word of Sanskrit, 
will give different names to these personages. But the 
comparative mythologist will hardly hesitate about 
assigning his real name to eadh of them, whether 
Aryan or Egyptian/ 

We may sum up in the words of Mariette: 'On 
the summit of the Egyptian pantheon hovers* a sole 
God, immortal, uncreate, invisible, and hidden in the 
inaccessible depths of his own essence. He is the 
creator of heaven and earth ; he made all that exists, 
and nothing was made without him. This is the God, 
the knowledge of whom was reserved for the initiated, 
in the sanctuaries. But the Egyptian mind could not, 
or would not, remain at this sublime altitude. It 
considered the world, its formation^ the principles 
which govern it, man and his earthly destiny, as an 
immense drama in which the one Being is the only 
actor. All proceeds from him, and all returns to him. 
But he has agents who are his own personified attri- 
butes who become deities in visible forms, limited in 
their activity, yet partaking of his own powers aad 
qualities V 

* In this account of the Egyptian religion I have cHefly followed M. 


If we turn from Africa to America, we find there in 
the North numerous languages as witnesses of ancient 
migrations, but of Ancient religion we have hardly 
anything. In the South^we know of two linguistic 
and political centres; and there, in Mexico and Peru, 
we meet with curious,* though not always trustworthy, 
traditions, of an ancient and welt-established system 
of religious faith and worship. 

Lastly, as it is possible to reconstruct an original 
Polynesian language from* what is common to the dia- 
lects of the islands reaching from America to Africa 
(Madagascar), fragments of an original Polynesian 
religion also are gradually brought to light, which 
would amply repay <he labours of a new Humboldt. 

The Science of Religion has this advantage over the 
Science of Lamguage, if advantage it may be called, 
that in* several cases where the latter has materials 
sufficient to raise problems of the highest importance, 
but not sufficient for their satisfactory solution, the 
former has no materials at all that would justify even 
a mere hypothesis. In many parts of the world where 
dialects, however degenerate, still allow jas a dark 
glimpse of a distant past, the old temples have com- 
pletely vanished, and the very n%mes of the ancient 
deities are cleaSi forgotten. We know nothing, we 
must be satisfied with knowing nothing, and^the true 
scholar leaves the field which proves all the more 
attractive to the dabblers in a priori theories. 

But even* if it were otherwise, the students of reli- 
gion would, I think, do well to follow tie eximiple of 

Le PageBenoufs 'Hibbert Lectures' of 1879, < Lectares c* the Origin 
and Growth of Beligion, as illustrated by the Beligion of Ancieni 
Egypt; 1 also Be BOUJ& <Sixr 1* Beligion des anciens gyptteoB,* ia 
' Annales de Philoeophie Cfe&iean^ 1 NOT. 1869. 


the students of language, and to serve their first ap- 
prentiqpship in a comparative study of $he Aryan and 
Semitic feligions. If it can be proved that the reli- 
gions of the Aryan nationis are united by the same 
bonds of a real relationship -grhich have enabled us to 
treat their languages as so many* varieties 8f the same 
type, and if th same fact can be established with 
reference to the Semitic world, the field thus opened 
is vast enough, and its careful clearing and cultivation 
will occupy several generations of scholars. And this 
original relationship, 1 believe, can be proved. Names 
of the principal deities, words also expressive of the 
most essential elements of religion, such as prayer, 
sacrifice, altar, spirit, law, and faith, have been pre- 
served among the Aryan and among the Semitic 
nations, and these relics admit of one explanation 
only. After that, a comparative study of tfte Tu- 
ranian religions may be approached with better hope 
of success \ for that there was not only a primitive 
Aryan and a primitive Semitic religion, but likewise 
a primitive Turanian religion, before each of these 
primeval j$ces was broken up and became separated 
in language, worship, and national sentiment, admits, 
I believe, of little dgubt at present. 

Let us begin with our own ancestors, the Aryans. 
In a lecture which I delivered in this place some years 
ago, I drew a sketch of what the life of the Aryans 
must have been before their first separation, that is, 
before the time when Sanskrit was spok&i in India, 
or Greek in Asia Minor and Europe. The outline of 
that sketch and the colours with which it was filled 
were simply taken from language. We argued that 
it would be possible, if we took all the words which 


exist in the same form in French, Italian, i 

ish, to show what words, and therefore wha^ 

must have been known to the people who aid notTas 
yet speak French, Italiai^ apd Spanish, but who spoke 
that language which preceded these Romance dialects. 
We happSn to know that language: it was Latin; 
but if w^ did not know a worck of 'Latin or a single 
chapter of Roman history, we should still be ablf, by 
using the evidence of the words which are common to 
all the Romance languages, to draw some kind of pic- 
ture of what the principal thougnts and occupations 
of those people must have been who lived in Italy a 
thousand years at least before the time of Charle- 
magne. We could* easily prove that those people 
must have had kings and laws, temples and palaces, 
ships and cawiages, high roads and bridges, and nearly 
all th$ ingredients of a highly civilised life. We could 
prove this, as I said, by simply taking the names of 
all these things as they occur in French, Spanish, and 
Italian, and by showing that as Spanish did not bor- 
row them from French, or Italian from Spanish, they 
must have existed in that previous stratum of lan- 
guage from which these three modern Romance dia- 
lects took their origin. 

Exactly the^same kind of argument enabled us to 
put together a kind of mosaic picture of the earliest 
civilisation of the Aryan people before the time of 
their separation. As we find in Greek, LS&B, e&A 
Sanskrit, also in Slavonic, Celtic, and TeoteaSfc, Ai 
same word for house, we are fully justified is <3jp$te&* 
ing that before any of these languages had susanmed a 
Separate existence, a thousand years at least before 
kgamemnon and before Manu, the ancestors of the 


Aryan, races were no longer dwellers in tents, but 
builders of permanent houses l . As we find the name 
for town the same in Sanskrit and Greek 2 , we can 
conclude with equal certainty that, if not towns, in 
ouf sense of the word, ai aU events strongholds or 
camps were known to the Aryaas before reek and 
before Sanskrit was^poken. As we find the name 
for king the same in Sanskrit, Latin, Teutonic, and 
Celtic r , we know again that some kind of kingly 
government was established* and recognised by the 
Aryans during the sarfle pre-historic period. 

I must not allow myself to be tempted to draw the 
whole of that picture of primeval civilisation over 
again*. I only wish to call back*to your recollection 
the fact that in exploring together the ancient archives 
of language, we found that the highest. God had re- 
ceived the same name in the ancient mythology of 
India, Greece, Italy, and Germany, and had retained 
that name, whe&er worshipped on the Himalayan 
mountains, or among the oaks of Dodona, on the 
Capitol, or in the forests of Germany. I pointed out 
that his name was Dyaus in Sanskrit, Zeus in Greek, 
Joui-8 in Latin, Tiu in German; but I hardly dwelt 
with sufficient strength on the startling nature of this 
discovery. These names are not merft names : they 
are historical facts, ay, facts more immediate, more 
trustworthy, than many facts of medieval history. 
These words are not mere words, but they bring 
before us, with all the vividness of an e^ent which 

1 Sk. dama MIMS, damns, Goth, timrjan, 'to build,' SI. dom; Sk. 
vew, o7ffosy vicus, Goth, veih-s. 

* Sk. pur, pur!, or puri, Gk. mJA; Sfc. vftstu, ' house,' 

* Sk. Bty, rtyan, rex, Goth, reika, IP. riogh. 
4 See 'Selected Essays,' vol. 1. p. 317 se$. 


we witnessed ourselves but yesterday, the ancestors 
of the whole Aryan race, thousands of years Jit may 
be before Homer and the Veda, worshipping an unseea 
Being, under the selfsame pame, the best, the most 
exalted name which they could find in their voeafiu- 
lary undSr the name of Light and Sky. 

And Iqjj us not turn away, awl day that this was, 
after all, but nature-worship and idolatry. Ho,j.t Vas 
not meant for that, though it may have been degraded 
into that in later times. Dyaus did not mean the blue 
sky, nor was it simply the sky personified: it was 
meant for something else. We have in the Veda the 
invocations Dyaus pitar^ the Greek ZeiJ irdtap, the 
Latin Jupiter; and'that means in all the three lan- 
guages what it meant before these three languages were 
torn asunder-it means Heaven-Father 1 These two 
words* are not mere words; they are to my mind the 
oldest poem, the oldest prayer of mankind, or at least 
of that pure branch of it to which we belong and I 
am as firmly convinced that this prayer was uttered, 
that this name was given to the unknown God before 
Sanskrit was Sanskrit and Greek was Gr^pk, as, when 
I see the Lord's Prayer in the languages of Polynesia 
and Melanesia, I feel certain thaj it was first uttered 
in the languagS of Jerusalem. We little thought when 
we heard for the first time the name of Jijpiter, de- 
graded it may be by Homer or Ovid into & scolding 
husband or a faithless lover, what sacred records toy 
enshrined *Sn tiiat unholy name. We stall fctfw Af 
learn the same lesson again and again in &e Setenee 
of Religion, viz. that the place whereon wo sknd is 
holy ground. Thousands of years bave passed since 
the Aryan nations separated to travel to the North 


and the South, the West and the East. They nave 
each formed their languages, they have, each founded 
empires and philosophies, they have each built temples 
and razed them to the ground ; they have all grown 
older, and it may be wiser aqd better; but when they 
search for a name for what is most exalted and yet 
most near and ciear t to every one of us, when they 
wist to express both awe and love, the infinite and 
the fhfite, they can but do what their old fathers did 
when gazing up to the eternal sky, and feeling the 
presence of a Being ds far as far and as near as near 
can be, they can but combine the selfsame words, and 
utter once more the primeval Aryan prayer, Heaven- 
Father, in that form which will endure for ever, c Our 
Father, which art in heaven.' 

Let us now turn to the early region of the 
Semitic nations. The Semitic languages, it is well 
known, are even more closely connected together 
than the Aryan languages, so much so that a com- 
parative grammar of the Semitic languages seems to 
have but few of the attractions possessed by a 
comparative study of Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin. 
Semitic scholars complain that there is no work 
worth doing in comparing the grammars of Hebrew, 
Syriac, Arabic, and JEthiopic, for they lave only to be 
placed side by side 1 in order to show their close 
relationsHip, I do not think this is quite true, and 
I still hope that M. Kenan will carry out his original 
design, and, by including not only the literary 
branches of the Semitic family, but also the ancient 
dialect^ of Phoenicia, Arabia, Babylon, and Nineveh, 
produce a comparative grammar of the Semitic lan- 

1 See Bunsen's 'Christianity and Mankind; 1 vol. iii. p. 246 *?, 


guage that may hold its place by the side of Bopp's 
great work on the Comparative Grammar f the 
Aryan Languages. 

But what is still faore surprising to me is that no 
Semitic scholar should have" followed the example e of 
the Arya scholars, and collected from the different 
Semitic dialects those common^ wards which must 
have existed before Hebrew was Hebrew, before Syriac 
was Syriac, and before Arabic was Arabic, an<f from 
which some kind of ideamight be formed as to what 
were the principal thoughts arid occupations of the 
Semitic race in its earliest undivided state. The 
materials seem much larger and much more easily 
accessible 1 . And though there may be some difficulty 
arising from the close contact which continued to 
exist between^several branches of the Semitic family, 
it would surely be possible, by means of phonetic 
rules, to distinguish between common Semitic words, 
and words borrowed, it may be, by the Arabs from 
Aramsean sources. The principal degrees of rela- 
tionship, for instance, have common names $mong 
the Semitic as among the Aryan nations, and if it 
was important to show that the Aryans had named 
and recognised not only the natural members of a 
family, such as*father and mother, son and daughter, 
brother and sister, but also the more distant members, 
the father and mother-in-law, the son and laughter- 
in-law, the brother and sister-in-law, would it not b 
of equal interest to show that the Semitic na^#* fcact 
reached the same degree of civilisation long bSftroifa* 
time of the laws of Moses? 

1 See Bnnsen's ' Christianity and Mankind,' vol. ift. p. 246, iv. 
P- 345- 


Confining ourselves to the more immediate 'object 
of our researches, we see "without difficulty, that the 
Semitic, like the Aryan languages, possess a number 
of names of the Deity in common, which must have 
esSstgd before the Soutf&nf or Arabic, the Northern 
or Aramaic, the Middle or jffebr.aic branckes became 
permanently separated, and which, therefore, allow us 
an insight into the religious conceptions of* the once 
united! Semitic race long before Jehovah was wor- 
shipped by Abraham, or Baal was invoked in Phoenicia, 
or El in Babylon. 

It is true, as I pointed out before, that the meaning 
of many of these names is more general than the 
original meaning of the names .of the Aryan gods. 
Many of them signify Powerful, Venerable, Exalted, 
King> Lord, and they might seem, therefore, like 
honorific titles, to have been given independently by 
the different branches of the Semitic family to the 
gods whom they worshipped each in their own sanc- 
tuaries. But if we consider how many words there 
were in the Semitic languages to express greatness, 
strength, or lordship, the fact that the same ap- 
pellatives occur as the proper names of the deity in 
Syria, in Carthage, in Babylon, and in Palestine, 
admits of one historical explanation only. There 
must have been a time for the Semitic as well as 
for the Aryan races, when they fixed the names of 
their deities, and that time must have preceded the 
formation of their separate languages and separate 

On5 of the oldest names of the deity among the 
ancestors of the Semitic nations was EL It meant 
Strong. It occurs in the Babylonian inscriptions as 


Hu, God x , and in the very name of Bab-il, &e gate or 
temple of II. In Hebrew it occurs both in its^general 
sense of strong or hero, and as a name of God. We 
have it in Beth-el? the house of God, and in many 
other names. If used ^th* the article as ha-Sl, the 
Strong Ome s or the. God, it always is meant in the 
Old Testament for Jehovah, th^ tnte God. E1 3 how- 
ever, always retained its appellative power, anA we 
find it applied therefore, in parts of tite Old Testament, 
to the gods of the gentiles also. 

The same El was worshiped at Byblus by the 
Phoenicians, and he was called there the son of Heaven 
and Earth 2 . His father was the son of Eliun, the 
most high God, who* had been killed by wild animals. 
The son of Eliun, who succeeded him, was dethroned, 
and at last slain by his own son El> whom Philo iden- 
tifies *rith the Greek Kronos, and represents as the 
presiding deity of the planet Saturn 8 . In the Eimy- 
aritic inscriptions, too, the name of El has been 
discovered 4 , and more lately in many Arab proper 
names 6 , but as a deity El was forgotten among the 
Arabs from the very earliest times. 

1 Scihrader, in the 'Zeitsohrift der Degtsdhen Morgenlandischen 
Gesellschaft, 1 vol. xii. p. 350 ; xxvi. p. 180. 
8 Bunaen, 'Egypt/ iv. 187. 'Eragmenta Hist. Grac.' YoL iii. 

P- 567- 

8 'Fragmenta Hist. Grac.' vol. iii. pp. 567-571. That M is tie 
presiding deity of the planet Saturn according to the CMLdfflans is also 
confirmed by JDiodorus Sioulus, ii pp. 30-33. See also Euaebins, 
'Praep. evang/ L o. x. p. 90, ed G-aisfbrd, K/w^os Tolvw t fa of *o&wrw 
*EXov irpocrayopctiavfft, and Bernays' notes, ' Zn SanohonxAihon, ' in Khais. 
Mns. 1864, p. 632, who corrects *H\ov into*&\. 

4 Oaiander, 'Zeitsotoift der Beutschen. Mor^enUndisdie 
achaft/ roL x. p, 61. 

8 Noldeke, 'Monatsberiolite der BerL Akademie/ 1880, p. 768. 


With the name of El, PMlo connected the name of 
MoMm, the plural of Eloah. In the battle between 
M and tii father, the allies of El, he says, were called 
JSloeim, as those who were with Kronos were called 
JTrOntpt 1 . This is, no dfcuBt, a very tempting ety- 
mology of Elodh; but as the bgst Semitic scholars, 
and particularly .Professor Fleischer, have declared 
against it, we shall have, however reluctantly, to 
surrender it. 

Eloah is the same word a the Arabic, Hdh, God, 
In the singular, Eloah is used in the Bible synonym- 
ously with El; in the plural it may mean gods in 
general, or false gods, but it becomes in the Old Tes- 
tament the recognised name of the true God, plural 
in form, but singular in meaning. In Arabic, Ildh, 
without the article, means a God in general: with 
the article Al-Ilah, or Allah 3 , becomes the name of 
the God of Mohammed, as it was the name of the 
God of Abraham and of Moses. 

The origin of Eloah or Ildfi has been frequently dis- 
cussed by European as well as by native scholars. 
The K&nius says that there were twenty, Mohammad 
El Fas! that there were thirty, opinions about it. 

Professor Fleischer 3 , whose judgment in such matters 

1 ' Fragmenta Hist. Greo. 1 vol. iii. p. 568, 1 8 : $ fe fffypax 01 *K**v 
rov Kp6vov "EXoeJju ^vtie^Orjaav, els hv TS-p&vioi oSroi Tfffav of kerfjuvoi 
lirl Kp6vov. * The plural of El, i.e. EHm, gods, occurs in Phoenician} 
Noldeke, L c, p. 775. 

2 Jf, &!*, *S%\, *SL On the original meaning of this AllAh see 
Sprenger, f Moluuninad,' i. p. 286. 

3 See a note by Professor Fleiaclier in Delitzsch, ' Commentar fiber 
die Genesis/ 3rd ed. f 1860, p. 64; also 'Zeitschriffc der Deutsohen 
Morgenlandischen GesellschafV vol. x, p. 60; and * Sitzungsberichte 
der konigl. SdchsiBchen. Gesellschaft der Wiasenschaften, Phalosoph. 
Hist. ClaBse,' vol. rviii (1866), pp. 390-392. Dr. W. Wright adopts 


we may trust implicitly, traces El, the strong one, 
back to a roo^c^ (with middle vav, aval), to ba thick 
and dense, to be fleshy and strong 1 . But Tie takes 
JEloak or Ildh for an absjrapt noun, in the sense ^of 
fear 2 , derived from a totally different root, viz. ulah, 
to be agitfted, confotmded, perplexed. From mean- 
ing fear, JEloah came to mean the object of fear or 
reverence, and thus rose to be a name of God. ^Uie 
same way we find packad, which means fear, used in 
the sense of God ; Gen. xlxi. 43 6 Except the God of 
my father, the God of Abraham, and the fear of Isaac 
had been with me.' And again, v. 54 'And Jacob 
sware by the fear of his father Isaac/ In Aramaic, 
dachld, fear, is the recognised name for God or for an 
idolj while in Sanskrit also, Brahman is called c a 
great fear 8 .' 

The^ame ancient name appears also in its feminine 
form as Alldt*. Her famous temple at Taif, in Arabia, 
was second only in importance to the sanctuary at 
Mekkah, and was destroyed at the command of Mo- 
hammed. The worship of Alldt, however, was not 
confined to this one place ; and there can be no doubt 
that the Arabian goddess Alilat, mentioned by He- 
rodotus 5 , is the same as the All&t$$ the Koran, 

Professor Heischer's derivation; likewise Professor Knenen in his 
work, ' Be Godsdienst van Israel,' p. 45. 

1 Professor Noldeke, L o. p. 774, assigns to ibis root the meaning of 
being in front, leading. 

* Kuenen, 'Religion of Israel,' i. p. 41, Eloah is only aged by poets, 
and its primitive meaning is ' fear,' hence, ' that which is fcacftd.* 

* Ka2&a-upanishad, vi. 2, monad bhayam vagrant mlystaw yaA.* 

* Osfonder, Zeitschrift der Deutsohen MorgenlandJB& 

scharV vii. 479-482, ^UJ* Allat, goddess, is otetraetod from 

* Herod, iii. 8 : 'Oo/iC<tfi (oi *A/H^toi) rk & Aitowrov 'Oporto, 



Another famous name of the deity, traces of which 
can be^ found among most of the Semitic nations, is 
Baal, of Bel The Assyrians and Babylonians 1 , the 
Phoenicians and Carthaginians, the Moabites and 
Pfiilistines, and, we mus actd, the Jews also, all knew 
of Bel or Baal as a great, or even as the supreme 
God. Baal cantar<Jlybe considered as a strange and 
foreign god in the eyes of the Jewish people, who, in 
spite of the protests of the Hebrew prophets, wor- 
shipped him so constantly i the groves of Jerusalem 2 . 
He was felt by them Almost as a home deity, or at all 
events, as a Semitic deity, and among the gods whom 
the fathers served on the other side of the flood, Baal or 
Bel held most likely a very prominent place. Though 
originally one 3 , Baal became divided into many divine 
personalities through the influence of Jocal worship. 
We hear of a Baal-tsur, Baal-tsidon, Baal-tars,origin- 
ally the Baal of Tyre, of Sidon, and Tarsus. On two 
candelabra found in the island of Malta we read the 
Phoenician dedication to * Melkarth, the Baal of Tyre. 1 

TJ)P fa Qipcnrbpr *AAiX<r. In Herod i. 131, 138, this name is corrupted 
to'AAirra. See Osiander, ' Zeiteohnft der Deutachen Morgenlandischen 
Gesellsehaft,' vol. ii pp ^.82, 483. Sprenger, 'Mohammad,* i p. 292, 
says, ' I hesitate to identify the Alilat of Herodotus with the al-Lft t of 
T&ytf, for even if it could be proved that this goddess had been worshipped 
in his time* he (Herodotus) would not have heard of her. Arabia and 
its worship extended at that time far to the North, and one should 
compare the importance of Palmyra with that of T&yif. Secondly, the 
form L&t is purer Arabic and older than H4t, alwayg supposing that 
the root is l&h, and not alh.' See also his ' Remarks on Arabian idols/ 
1. c, p. 361. Orotal has been explained as 'light* or 'fire' of El. 
Kuenen, 'Religion of Israel, 1 vol i. p. 228 

1 ' Fragmenta Hist Gweo.' vol. ii, p. 498, a, 

a Ibid. vol. iii p 568, 21. 

8 M, de Vogue^ 'Journal Asiatiqne/ 1867, p. 135. 


At Shechem Baal was worshipped as Baal-berith 1 , sup- 
posed to mean, the god of treaties; at Ekron the 
Philistines worshipped him as Baal-zebub*, the lord 
of flies, while the Moabiteg, ajid the Jews too, knew 
him also by the name of Baal-peor*. On Phoenician 
coins Baal ft called Bftal-Shltmayim, on Palmyrenian 
inscriptions (de Vogue*, No. 73^ B&al-sham&a, the 
Baal of heaven, which is the BeelsamSn of Philo, iddh- 
tified by him with the sun 4 . * When the heat became 
oppressive, the ancient rafees of Phoenicia,' he says, 
' lifted their hand heavenward to the sun. For him 
they considered the only God, the lord of heaven, 
calling him Beel-sam6n 6 , which with the Phoenicianj3 
is lord of heaven, and with the Greeks Zeus/ We 
likewise hear of Baattm, or many Baals or gods. 
And in the same way as by the side of the male Ildh 
or MWJI we found a female Alldt, we also find by the 
side of the male Baal, a female deity Baalt, the Biltu 
of the Assyrians 6 , the Baaltis of the Phoenicians. It 
may be that the original conception of female deities 
differs among Semitic and Aryan nations, and that 
these feminine forms of All&h and Baal were at first 
intended only to express the energy or activity, or the 

1 Judges viii. 33 ; i 4. a a Kings i. 2, $? 16. 

8 Numbers zrv. 3. 

* 'Fragmenta Hist. Grssc ' vol. iii. p. 565, 5. It is impossible to 
change ijXwv to %\ov, because El or Kronos is mentioned afterwards. 

8 Is this the S&U18 as T^p.-rpft-mnp^ montdoned. by MJoses of OlM^ne 
(His. Arm. TO! ip. 13) as a deified hero worshipped by the Syiwjs f 
Or is Barsamus the Son of Heaven 1 See Bawtoon, 'Anoimt 
Monarchies/ voL i. p. 116. ^ 

8 See Sohrader, 'Zeitsohrifb der Deutschen Horgenl. G*BaIIsdbaft,' 
zxvi. p. 193, Professor Noldeke is inclined to treaft 'Abraham and 
Sarah/ 'the High Father and the Princess/ as a sifiuLar originally 
di-vine pair. 


collective powers of the deity, not a separate being, 
least ^all a wife. This opinion 1 i& certainly con- 
firmed when we see that in m$ny Carthaginian in- 
Bflriptions the goddess Tgmfc is called the face of Baal*, 
and* that in the inscription of Eshmunazar, the Sido- 
triim Astarte is called the nam$ of Saal^ In course 
of time, however, this abstract idea was jaupplanted 
by that of a female power, and even a wife, and as 
such we find Baaltis worshipped by Phoenicians 4 , 
Babylonians, and Assyrians 6 , for the name of Mylitta 
in Herodotus 6 is, according to Dr. Oppert, a mere cor- 
ruption of Baaltis. 

Another female goddess is Ashtoreth or Ashtaroth 
(plural), a name which presupposes a masculine deity, 
Asktar. Traces of this god or goddess have been dis- 
covered in the Ishtar of the Babylonian inscriptions, 
where Ishtar is always feminine, the Queen of heaven 
and earth 7 . A Palmyrene inscription also, according 
to some authorities, and the Moabite stone speak of 
the same deity. In her case, however, the female 
character became preponderant, and as such she was 
worshipped, not only by Carthaginians, Phoenicians, 
and Philistines, but likewise by the Jews 8 when they 
forsook the Lord^ and served Baal and Ashtaroth 9 . 
The Syrians called her 'Atharathah* the Atargatis of 
Straboi . The Phoenicians called her Astarte, and by 

1 De Vogue*, 'Journal Asiatique,' 1867, p. 138. 

* 'Eragmenta Hist. Grac.* vol. iii. p. 569, 25. 

8 Ibid. vol. iv p 283, 9. fl Herod, i. 131, 199. 

7 See Sohrader, ?. d. D. M. G. ncvi. p. 169. 

* i Kings xi. 5 ; also Genesis xiv. 5. Judges ii. 13. 

J0 See Noldeke, '2. d. D. M, G. 1 zriv. 92, 109; Sfrabo, p, 667, 43; 

LECTURE Itl, 117 

that otfinous name she became known to Greeks and 
Eomans. She may have been a moon-goddess, as 
Kuenen supposes ('Religion of Israel, 1 vol. i. p-^o), and 
she was originally a fiumen virginale before her service 
degenerated into wild excesses! When Jeremiah sp$a&s 
of the Quean of Heaven 1 , this is probably meant for 
Astarte, or Baaltis. Even in Southern Arabia there 
are traces' jf the worship of this ancient goddess, 
For in San&, the ancient capital of the Himjtoitic 
kingdom, there was a magnificent palace and temple 
dedicated to Venus (Bait Ghumofc&n), and the name of 
Athtar has been read in the Himyaritic inscriptions : 
nay, it is preceded in one place by the verb in the 
masculine gender 2 . 

Another word meaning originally king, which 
must have beqn fixed upon as a name of the Deity 
in pre-Mstoric times, is the Hebrew Meleck. We find 
it in Moloch, who was worshipped, not only in 
Carthage, in the Islands of Crete and Rhodes, but 
likewise in the valley of Hinnom. We find the same 
word in Milcom, the god of the Ammonites, who had 
a sanctuary in Mount Olivet 3 ; and the gods Adram- 
melech and Anammelech, to whom the Sepharvites 
burnt their children in the fire 4 , seem again but local 
varieties of the same ancient Semitic idol. 

1 Jar. TO! 18, 

9 Osionder, * Zeiteehrift der Deutschen Morgenlandischen GeseU- 
sohaft.' vii. p. 472 ; Gildemeister, 'Zeitsch. der D. M, G.' vol. aodv. 
pp. 1 80, 181; Jjenormant, 'Coznptee-rendus des stances de 1'Acad. 
dea Inscriptions et Belles-lettres del'tfonle 1867;' I^evy, 'Zeitechiift 
der D. M. G-.' vol. zziv. p. 189. 

8 a Kings inmi. 13. 

* a Sings xvii. 31. There was also an Assyrian god Adar, see 
Sobradeor, Z. d. D. M. G, xxvi. pp. 140, 149, and another god A&u, see 
Schrader, Lap. 141. 


i) which in Hebrew means my lord, and in 
the OJd Testament is used exclusively of Jehovah, 
appears *in Phoenicia as the name of the Supreme 
Deity, and after undergoing manifold mythological 
transformations, the same name has become familiar 
to us through the Greek tales about te beautiful 
young Adonis, foved by Aphrodite, and killed by the 
wiid _boar of Ares. 

Elydn, which in Hebrew means the Highest, is used 
in the Old Testament as a predicate of God. It occurs 
also by itself as a nfime of Jehovah, Melchizedek is 
called emphatically the priest of El Elydn, the priest 
of the most high God. 

But this name again is not restricted to Hebrew. 
It occurs in the Phoenician cosmogony as Miun, the 
highest God, the Father of Heaven, who was the 
father of El Dr. Oppert has identified this Eliun 
with the Jlinus mentioned by Damascius. 

Another word used in the Bible, sometimes in 
combination with El, and more frequently alone, as 
a name of the supreme deity, is Shaddai \ the violent 
or powerful. It has been derived from a kindred root 
to that which has yielded the substantive Shdd, 
meaning demon i% Syriac and in the language of 
the Talmud, and the plural JShedim^ name for false 
gods or idols in the Old Testament, M, de Vogue* 2 

4. J. ---- ~ --- --- 

hieroglyphic inscriptions. It occurs there as the name 
of a god introduced by the Shepherds, "and having 
Baal^as one of his epithets. Lepsius 3 , however, is op- 

1 >Tfli or '? to Journal Asiatique,' 1867, p. 160. 

Lepsius, 'Der erste Aeg, Ootterkrefe,' p. 48. See also Noldeke, 


posed t!o this identification. The same deity Shaddai, 
the Powerful, ^ has, by a clever conjecture, begn dis- 
covered as one of the deities worshipped by the 
ancient Phoenicians 1 . 

While these names of the Deity and some more 
are shared? in common by all, or by the most im- 
portant branches of the Semitif family, and must 
therefore liave existed previous to the first Semitic 
separation, there are others which are generally sup- 
posed to be peculiar to one or the other branch. They 
either started into existence after the first Semitic 
Separation, or at all events they became in after times 
the peculiar gods of their own peculiar people, such 
as Chemosh of the Moabites, Milcom of the Am- 
monites, Ashtaroth of the Sidonians 2 . 

Thus the name of Jehovah, or Jahveh*, as it seems 
originally to have been pronounced 4 , has generally 
been supposed to be a divine name peculiar to the 
Jews. It is true that in a well-known passage of 
Lydus, IAO 6 is said to have been the name of God 
among the Chaldseans. But granting that IAO was 
the same word as Jahveh or Jehovah or Jah (as in 

'Ztir Kritik des A. T.' p. 160, note ; and Cheyne, in the Academy, 1875, 
P. 653. 

1 Bunsen, 'EgyjrtJ 1 iv. 221 ; De Vogue*, 'Melanges d'Aicheologie,' 
p. 77. See also Noldeke, 1. o p. 775. 

fl i Kings xi, 5, 7 ; 2 Kings xxii. 13 ; Judges si. 23, 24. n 

8 Theodoret 'Quaest. xv. ad Exodum' (420 A,D.): Aou SJofirA 
Sa/utpcfrat IABE, 'lovSeuot 5i IAH. Diod. Sic, i. 94 (59 B. 0.) : 
rotV 'louSa/ot? M0vffT)v rbv *Ia; kiriKC&aijfjifvov 9t6v, tc. r. X. 

* See Kuenen, 'Hibberfc Lectures,' p. 308. 

LyduB, *De Menribus,' iv. 38, 14 : Ol XaX8aT rfa 

u, oltar 6 Mp rois iirrA irrfAow, rovriarw b SqfHQVpy6s : Bnnsen, 
193; Benan, 'SaobhonUaiaii, 1 p. 44, note. And sea 
Diodorus Siculua, i. 94, a. 


Hallelu-jah)> may not Lydus by the Chaldseaife have 
simply meant the Jews? We should be driven to 
a different conclusion, if Jahu did really occur as a 
divine name in the Assyrian inscriptions. Sir Henry 
RawHnson, however, to "wtibm I applied for informa- 
tion,* declares himself to be doubtful, as jset, whether 
the Jahu who is mentioned in the Assyrian inscrip- 
tio^s is really an Assyrian name. He thinks it may be 
a Syrian word that found an entrance into Assyrian, 
like several other foreign words. Other scholars, on 
the contrary, such as Professor Schrader, express them- 
selves less doubtfully on this point, and claim Jahu 
as one of the old Assyrian gods. Nay, they now go 
evfcn a step further, and trace his first beginning back 
to Accadian. Thus Professor Delitzsch maintains that 
the simple sound I signified in Accadian 'god' and 
'the supreme god/ just as Ui, ila (Hebrew fl) did; 
that the Assyrians pronounced this I with the nomi- 
native termination ia-u ; that accordingly the character 
for I was called by the Assyrians ia-u ; and that it 
can only be regarded as an accident that hitherto 
Ya-u, as the name of the deity, has not been met with 
in any Assyrian inscription 1 . 

It is difficult either to accept or to reject statements 
of facts put forward with so much authority, and it 
seems to me the most respectful attitude which we 
can assume with regard to the new evidence placed 
before us by Assyrian and Accadian scholars, if for 
the present we keep at a certain distance, and wait 
before finally recasting our received notions of Semitic 
religion. That the Babylonian and Assyrian docu- 

1 See Kuemn, 'Hibbert Lecture,' p. 311. 


merits are being deciphered in a truly scientific spirit 
has never been a matter of doubt to me, since the 
first publication of the Babylonian version of the 
Behistun inscriptions. Nor have I been in the least 
surprised at the frequent cnanges in the reading* of 
certain ncftnes, and in the rendering of certain sen- 
tences. Though unable to follow Jhe bold investigators 
of these Semitic documents, it was not difficult for Any 
one acquainted with the history of the decipherment 
of the Persian Cuneiform* inscriptions, to understand 
why there should be at first stf much uncertainty in 
reading an alphabet like that of the Semitic Cunei- 
form texts. With regard to the Sumerian decipher- 
ments, I have no right to say even so much as tEis, 
but here too I feel we ought to learn to wait, and 
not discourage those laborious explorers who try to 
translate a language of which as yet no more is 
really known than that it is neither Semitic nor 
Aryan. All I can say is, that if their endeavours are 
ever crowned with complete success, their achievement 
will be more wonderful than the decipherment of all 
other inscriptions. 

Taking this view of the matter, I have, whenever I 
had to treat of the religion of the Semitic races, simply 
abstained from* touching on Babylonian or Assyrian, 
still more on Accadian and Sumerian ground. I pre- 
ferred leaving a gap to filling it with materials which, 
from the nature of the case, were as yet so pliant and 
so brittle.* I greatly admire the courage of otfoae 
students of ancient religion, and partienterly of fto~ 
fessor Tiele, who in his 'Comparative History of An- 
cient Religions ' has made such excellent use of the 
same materials. But I cannot disregard the warning 


voices of other scholars, such as, for instance, M?. Guy- 
ard, who remarks that the gods of the Sumerian and 
Accadian* religions called 'Moulge, Silik-moulon-chi' 
are in reality the names of Bel and Mardak, wrongly 
deciphered 1 . It might b sfSd that M. Guyard is not 
a quite impartial authority in guch questions. But 
he quotes Mr. Binches, whose authority will hardly 
be questioned, and who remarks that suCh names 
of AcSadian kings as Hammurabi and Burnaburias, 
should really be read Kimtu rapastu and Kidin-bel- 

I say again that even such portents are not enough 
to shake my faith in that method of Babylonian and 
ev&i of Accadian decipherment which has been followed 
for years by so many eminent scholars, but I think the 
historian of ancient religions is justified in waiting 
before he either accepts or definitely rejects tlw new 
light that the ancient Cuneiform Inscriptions are meant 
to shed over the most remote periods of Semitic thought. 
Thai some of our best Semitic scholars should be less 
patient, and point out what seems to them utter im- 
possibilities in the conclusions to which Babylonian and 
Accadian researches seem to lead, is perfectly natural. 
Such criticism should be welcomed, not resented. Thus 
Professor Kuenen, tBe great historian rf the 'Religion 
of Israel,* objects to the Accadian derivation of Jeho- 
vah or Jahveh, because he sees difficulties which must 
be removed before such a derivation could be accepted. 
He remarks that as early as the inscription of Mesha, 
about 900 B. a, the name of Jahveh occurs in its qua- 
driliteral forms, Y(a)hw(e)h, and such a form could 
never have growa out of lau; while lau, as he shows, 

1 See ' Athenaeum/ if June, 1883. 


might well be understood as a secondaiy development 
of Y(a)hw(e)lj. 'In the eighth century ,' as ti\e same 
scholar adds 1 , 'the name of Jahveh was regarded by 
many, rightly or wrongly^ as a derivative of the verb 
to be. It was explained as he is, and in it was. sSen 
the exprefeion of the unchangeableness and faithful- 
ness of the God to whose essence the name corres- 
ponded.* Professor Kuenen holds, in fact, that Ifoses 
was the first to call the god of the sons or Israel 
Jahveh 2 , instead of his t>ld name El-Shaddai, and I 
only wonder that he did not xfiention that the name 
of Jahveh occurs for the first time in the name of the 
mother of Moses, Jochebed, ' she whose glory is Jeho- 
vah.' He leaves it open to explain Jahveh, either as 
He who is, or as He who alone is, while the other gods 
are not; butjie inclines himself to take the root in 
a caulal sense, and to take the name of Jahveh as 
meaning he who gives life, who causes everything to 
exist, the creator. This would make Jahveh almost 
a reproduction of the old Vedic Asura, the life-giver, 
from as, to breathe, to be, asu, breath, asura, the 
living and enlivening god, the Ahura of the Avesta, 
showing again how the same thoughts and the same 
names may crop up on Aryan and Semitic ground 
without necessitating in the least the admission of an 
actual contact during pre-historic periods of Aryans 
and Semites in Iran 8 . 

But whether for the present we include or exdtute 
the name V Jehovah from the stock of derate a*$ftft 

1 Ksenen, ' Hibbert Lectures,' p. 311 ; KBH, < 
vol. i. p. 42. 

Kuenen, ' EeHgion of Israel/ -voL L p. 378. 
8 Ibid, p, 354. 


shared in common by the whole Semitic race, we 
have, I^think, sufficient witnesses to establish the fact 
that ther was a period during which the ancestors of 
the Semitic family had not yefc teen divided either 
in language or religion. That period transcends the 
recollection of every one of the Semitic rdbes in the 
same way as neither Hindus, GreekSj nor Komans 
have any recollection of the time when tliey spoke 
a common language, and worshipped their Father in 
heaven by a name that wasas yet neither Sanskrit, 
nor Greek, nor Latin.* I do not hesitate to call this 
pre-historic period historical in the best sense of the 
word. It was a real period, because, unless it was 
real, all the realities of the Semitic languages and the 
Semitic religions, such as we find them after their 
separation, would be unintelligible. Hebrew, Syriac, 
and Arabic point to a common source as mtteh as 
Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin; and unless we can bring 
ourselves to doubt that the Hindus, the Greeks, the 
Romans, and the Teutons derived the worship of their 
principal deity from their common Aryan sanctuary, 
we shall not be able to deny that there was likewise 
a primitive religion of the whole Semitic race, and 
that UK, the Strong One in heaven, was invoked by 
the ancestors of alf the Semitic race$, before there 
were Babylonians in Babylon, Phoenicians in Sidon 
and TynTs, before there were Jews in Mesopotamia 
or Jerusalem. The evidence of the Semitic is the 
same as that of the Aryan languages : the Conclusion 
cannot be different. 

We "now come to the third nucleus of language, 
and, as I hope t<5 show, of religion also that which 
forms the foundation of the Turanian world. The 


subject is extremely difficult, and I confess I doubt 
whether I shall succeed in engaging your syjnpathy 
in favour of the religious opinions of people &> strange, 
so far removed from us,^as the Chinese, the Mongo- 
lians, the Samoyedes, the 'Finns, and Lapps,. We 
naturally %ake an interest in the ancient history of 
the Aryan and Semitic nations^f or,* after all, -we are 
ourselves*Aryan in language, and Semitic, at least to 
a certain extent, in religion. But what have*we in 
common with the Turanians, with Chinese and Sa- 
moyedes? Very little, it may sdbm ; and yet it is not 
the yellow skin and the high cheekbones that make 
the man. Nay, if we look but steadily into those 
black Chinese eyes, we shall find that there, too, there 
is a soul that responds to a soul, and that the God 
whom they wean is the same God whom we mean, 
however helpless their utterance, however imperfect 
their worship. 

That the languages of the Finns, Lapps, Samoyedes, 
Turks, Mongol and Tungusians presuppose an early, 
though, it may be, not a very firm settlement, is now 
admitted by all competent authorities. That the 
Tamulic, Lohitic, Gangetic, Malaie and Taic languages 
presuppose a similar concentration, is as yet an hy- 
pothesis only, while the convergence of these two 
branches, the North Turanian and South Turanian, 
towards the most ancient Chinese as their common 
centre, though it may be called plausible, has certainly 
not yet tifeen established by sufficient scientific evi- 
dence. If therefore we endeavour to discover among 
the religions of these people fragments, and, more par- 
ticularly, linguistic fragments which* betray the same 


source, we must never forget that, as yet, we are building 
hypothesis on hypothesis only, and that our pleading for 
the existence of common Turanian concepts of the Divine 
cannot count on the same willing acceptance which 
is fe^dily accorded to arguments in favour of common 
Aryan and Semitic concepts of. the Deit^ On the 
other hand it skould be borne in mind that, if we 
succeeded in establisTiing the existence of *names of 
the Deity shared in common by some at least of the 
Turanian peoples, this would supply a new and very 
important support of*the theory that the Turanian 
languages possess indeed a common prehistoric begin- 
ning, and a common historic continuity. 

11 we take the religion of China as the earliest 
representative of Turanian worship, the question is, 
whether we can find any names of $he Deity in 
Chinese which appear again in the religions anS my- 
thologies of other Turanian tribes, such as the Mand- 
shus, the Mongolians, the Tatars, or Finns. I confess 
tfeat, considering the changing and shifting character 
<$ the Turanian languages, considering also the long 
interval of time that must have passed between the 
first linguistic and religious settlement in China, and 
the later gradual and imperfect consolidation of the 
other Turanian races, I was not very (ftmguine in my 
expectation that any such names as Dyaus pitar 
among tffe Aryans, or El and Baal among the She* 
mites, could have survived in the religious traditions 
of the vast Turanian world. Such preconceived 
opinions, however, ought not to keep us from further 
researches, and if what we find is but little, we must 
never forget that we have hardly a right to, expect 
evea this little. There are in researches of this kind 


different degrees of certainty, and I am the very last 
person to slu them over, and to represent all our 
results as equally certain. But if we want lo arrive 
at terra ftrma, we must 3qpt jnind a plunge now and 
then ; and if we wish to mount a ladder, we musfc not 
be afraid <JF taking ifce first step. The coincidences 
between the religious phraseology bf Chinese and 
other Turanian languages are certainly not liljp Ube 
coincidences between Greek and Sanskrit, or between 
Hebrew and Phoenician; but they are such that they 
ought not to be passed over by the pioneers of a new 

You remember that the popular worship of anciept 
China was a worship of single spirits, of powers, or, 
we might almost say, of names, the names of the most 
prominent powers of nature which are supposed to 
exerdteft an influence for good or evil on the life of 
man. We find a belief in spirits of the sky, the 
sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, the mountains, 
the rivers ; to say nothing as yet of the spirits of th$ 

In China, where there always has been a strong 
tendency towards order and regularity, some kind of 
system has been superinduced by the recognition of 
two powers, one' active, the other passive, one male, 
the other female, which comprehend everything, and 
which, in the mind of. the more enlightened, tower 
high above the great crowd of minor spirits. These 
two powers %re within and beneath and behind every* 
thing that is double in nature, and they have fre- 
quently been identified with heaven and earth. 

We can clearly see, however, that the spirit of 
heaven occupied from the beginning a much higher 


position than the spirit of the earth. It is in i&e his- 
torica^books only, in the Shu-king 1 , that we are told 
that hetfven and earth together are he father and 
mother of all things. In the most ancient poetry 
Heayen alone is both fa&er and mother 2 . This spirit 
of heaven is known in Chinese, by the natae of Tim, 
and wherever in other religions we should expect the 
name of the supreme deity, whether Jupitdr or Allah, 
we find in Chinese the name of Tien or sky. This 
Tien, according to the Imperial Dictionary of Kanghee, 
means the Great Oflfc, he that dwells on high and 
regulates all below. We see in fact that Tien, ori- 
ginally the name of sky, has passed in Chinese 
t&Vough nearly all the phases, from the lowest to the 
highest, through which the Aryan name for sky, 
dyaus, passed in the poetry, the religion, the my- 
thology, and philosophy of India and Greece. The 
sign of tien in Chinese is ^, and this is compounded 
of two signs: ^ ta, which means great, and yih, 
which means one. The sky, therefore, was conceived 
as the One, the Peerless, and as the Great, the High, 
the Exalted. I remember reading in a Chinese book, 
*As there is but one sky, how can there be many 
gods?' In fact, their belief in Ti^i, the spirit of 
heaven, moulded the whole of the religious phraseo- 
logy of ihe Chinese. * The glorious heaven/ we read, 
'is called bright, it accompanies you wherever you 

1 la the 'Shu-king* (3, n) Tien is called Shaag-tien, or High 
Heaven, which la synonymous with Shang-te, High Spirit, another very 
commjm name of the supreme deity. The Confucians never made any 
image of Bhang-te, but the Tao-sse represented their (Yah-hwang) 
Shang-te under thefcuman form. Medhurat, 'Inquiry,' p. 46. 

a Chalmers, 'Origin of the Chinese/ p. 14; Medhurst, 1. c p 124, 
contrast between Shin and Shangti, 


go; the glorious heaven is called luminous, it goes 
wherever you roam/ Tien is called the ancestor of 
all things; the highest that is above. He is called 
the great framer, who makes things as a potter frames 
an earthen vessel. The Chinese also speak of the de- 
crees and tHe will of Heaven, of the steps of Heaven 
or Providence. The sages who Ijeach* the people are 
sent by heaven, and Confucius himself is said tojive 
been used by heaven as the 'alarum* of the worid. 
The same Confucius, when on the brink of despond- 
ency, because no one would beliSve in him, knows of 
one comfort only: that comfort is: 'Heaven knows 
me.' It is clear from many passages that with Con- 
fucius Tien or the Spirit of Heaven was the supreme 
deity, and that he looked upon the other gods of the 
people, the spirits of the air, the mountains and the 
rivers, Tihe spirits also of the departed, very much 
with the same feelings with which Sokrates regarded 
the mythological deities of Greece. Thus when asked 
on one occasion how the spirits should be served, he 
replied: c lf we are not able to serve men, how can 
we serve the spirits?' And at another time he said, 
in his short and significant manner: 'Bespect the 
Gods, and keep them at a distance L* 

We have now\> see whether we can find any traces 
of this belief in a supreme spirit of heaven among the 
other branches of the Turanian class, the Mandshus, 
Mongolians, Tatars, Finns, or Lapps. As there are 
many name? for sky in the Turanian dialects, it would 
not be absolutely necessary that we should fincL the 
same name which we found in Chinese: yet, if traces 
of that name could be found among Mongolians and 

1 Medhurst, *BepIy to !Dr, Booae/ p. 32. 


Tatars, our argument would, no doubt, gain far'greater 
strength. It is the same in all researches of compara- 
tive mythology. If we find the same conceptions, 
the same myths and legends, in* India, Greece, Italy, 
and. Germany, there is, no doubfc some presumption 
in favour of their common origin, but nocnore. But 
if we meet with gods and heroes, having the same 
names in the mythology of the Veda, and? in the my- 
thology of Greece and Eome and Germany, we stand 
on firmer ground. We hove then to deal with real 
facts that cannot be^iisputed, and alt that remains i$ 
to explain them. 

In Turanian mythology, however, such facts are 
not easily brought together. With the exception of 
China, we know very little of the ancient history of 
the Turanian races, and what we knqpr of their pre- 
sent state comes frequently from prejudiced observers. 
Besides, their old heathendom is fast disappearing be- 
fore the advance of Buddhism, Mohammedanism, and 
Christianity. Yet if we take the accounts of the most 
trustworthy travellers in Central and Northern Asia, 
and more particularly the careful observations of 
Castr&i, we cannot but recognise some most striking 
coincidences in the scattered notices of the religion of 
the Tungusic, Mongolic, Tataric, afld Finnic tribes* 
Everywhere we find a worship of the spirita of nature, 
of the "spirits of the departed, though behind an<J. 
above it there rises the belief in some higher power, 
known by different names, sometimes called the 
Fattier, the Old One, who is the Maker and Protector 
of the world, and who always resides in heaven \ 
Chinjese historians are the only writers who give qp 

' Vorlesungen ttbsr Fimujsohe Mytfcologie,' p. 2. 


an account of the earlier history of some of these 
Turanian, tribes, particularly of the Huns, whom they 
GB^lHiangnu, and of the Turks 9 whom they call Tuhiu. 
They relate that the* Huns worshipped the sun, ths 
moon, the spirits of the sfi:y*and the earth, and.tMb 
spirits of tke depart^., and that their priests, the 
Shamans, possessed a power over the clouds, being 
able to bri^g down snow, hail, rain", and wind 1 . 

Menander, a Byzantine historian, relates of the Arks 
that in his time they worshipped the fire, the water, 
and the earth, but that at the same time they believed 
in a God, the maker of the world, and offered to him 
sacrifices of camels, oxen, and sheep. 

Still later we get some information from medieval 
travellers, such as Piano Carpini 2 and Marco Polo 3 , 

1 Castrfc, VorleBungen fiber Pnmisohe Mythologie,' p. 36. 

9 ' They believe in one God, the Maker of all things, visible and 
invisible, and the Distributor of good and evil in this world, bnt they 
worship him not with prayers or praises or any kind of service. 
NathelesB they have certain idols of felt, imitating the human face, 
and having underneath the face something- resembling teats; these 
they place on either side the door. These they believe to be the 
guardians of the flocks, from whom they have the boons of milk and 
increase Others they fabricate of bits of silk, and these are highly 
honoured .... and whenever they begin to eat and drink, they first 
offer these idols a portion of their food or drinV See * Maroo Polo/ ed. 
Yule, vol. i. p. 249. 

8 'This is the fashion of their religion. They say there is a Most 
High God of Heaven, whom they worship daily with thurible and 
incense, but they pray to Him only for health of mind and body. But 
they have also certain other gods of theirs called Natigay, and bey say 
he is the god of fee Earth, who watohes over their children, 6**tf**'*** 
crops. They show him great worship and honour, and evwy J*a* Mb 
a figure of him in his house, made of felt aadolofch; and they ftlflfl pafr* 
in the same manner images of his wife and children. Tfea wife thay pui 
on the left hand, and the children in front. And wfcen they eat, they 
take the fat of the meat and grease the god'a D&OQ& withal, as well as 
the mouths of his wife am* ckiltoau Than thft? take off the broth and 
E % 


who say that the Mongol tribes paid great reverence 
to th$ sun, the fire, and the water, but that they be- 
lieved also in a great and powerful God, whom they 
called Natagai (Natigay) qs Itoga. 

modern times we have chiefly to depend on 
Castr&i, who had eyes to see -and ears tt) hear what 
few other travdlerj would have seen or heard, or un- 
dSr^jOod. Speaking of the Tungusic trifles, he says, 
' they worship the sun, the moon, the stars, the earth, 
fire, the spirits of fbrests s rivers, and certain sacred 
localities ; they worship even images and fetishes, but 
with all this they retain a faith in a supreme being 
which they call Buga 1 .' e The Samoyedes,' he says, 
' worship idols and various natural objects ; but they 
always profess a belief in a higher divine power which 
they call Num.' 

This deity which is called Num is also callfd Junta 
by the Samoyedes 2 , and is in fact the same deity 
which in the grand mythology of Finland is known 
under the name of Jumala. The mythology of Fin- 
land has been more carefully preserved than the my- 
thologies of all the other Altaic races, and in their 
ancient epic poems which have been kept up by oral 
tradition for cenijpries, and have been written down 

sprinkle it before the door of the house ; and that done, they deem that 
their god, and his family have had their share of the dinner. 1 ' Marco 
Polo, 1 ed. Yule, voL i p. 348, Colonel Yule traces these Nagatay 
back to the Ongot of the Tongues, and the Noga& of the Bnriatee, 
Marco Polo himself ascribes the same worship of the Nagatay to the 
Catfcayans, i. e. Chinese (vol. i. p. 437), but Colonel Yale thinks that 
this may be due to a confusion of Chinese with Tartars. See also vol. ii. 
p. 478 

1 Is this the Bussian 'bog/ god? 

* Castren, 'VorlesungenuberFinniBoheMythologie/p. 13. 


but very lately, we have magnificent descriptions of 
Jumala, the deity of the sky. 

Jumala meant origmally the sky. It is derived, as 
Castre'n has shown (p. 34)4 from Juma, thunder, and 
la, the place, meaning therefore the place of thunder, 
or the sky. * It is used first of all for sky, secondly 
for the god of the sky, and thirdly for gods in general. 
The very sefme word, only modified according to the 
phonetic rules of each language, occurs among the 
Lapps (p. n), the Esthonians, the Syrjanes, the 
Tcheremissians, and the Votyafes (p. 34). We can 
watch the growth and the changes of this heavenly 
deity as we catch a glimpse here and there of the re- 
ligious thoughts of the Altaic tribes. An old Sa- 
moyede woman who was asked by Castre'n (p. 16) 
whether she e?er said her prayers, replied: 'Every 
morning I step out of my tent and bow before the 
sun, and say : " When thou riaest, I, too, rise from my 
bed." And every evening I say : " When thou sinkest 
down, I, too, sink down to rest."* That was her 
prayer, perhaps the whole of her religious service ; 
a poor prayer it may seem to us, but not to her : for 
it made that old woman look twice at least every day 
away from earth and up to heaven ; it implied that 
her life was bouftd up with a larger and higher life ; 
it encircled the daily routine of her earthly existence 
with something of a divine light. She herself was 
evidently proud of it, for she added, with a touch of 
self-righteouShess ; * There are wild people who never 
say their morning and evening prayers/ 

While in this case the deity of the sky is represented, 
as it were, by the sun, we see Jumala, under different 
circumstances, conceived as the deity of the sea* 


"When walking one evening with a Samoyede sailor 
along.the coast of the Polar Sea, Casfcr&i asked him : 
' Tell me, where is NumT (i.e. ^umala.) Without a 
moment's hesitation the ol<i sailor pointed to the dark, 
distant sea, and said : ' He is there. 9 

Again, in the epic poem Kal^&la, wherf the hostess 
of Pohjola is in labgur, she calls on Jumala, and says : 
* Obige now into the bath, Jumala, into t&e warmth, 
Lord of the air I' (p. 19). 

At another time Jumalafis the god of the air, and ia 
invoked in the following lines (p. 31): 

Harness now thyself, Jumala, 
Buler of the air, thy horses t 
Bring them forth, thy rapid racers, 
Drive the sledge with glittering colours, 
Passing through our bones, our ankles. 
Through our flesh that shakes and trembles, 
Through our veins which seem all broken. 
Knit the flesh and bones together. 
Fasten vein to vein more firmly. 
Let our joints be filled with silver, 
Let our veins with gold be running 1 

In all these cases the deity invoked is the same, it 
is iihe deity of the sky, Jumala ; but so indefinite is 
his character, that we can hardly say whether he is 
the god of the sky, t or the sun, or tfce sea, or the air, 
or whether he is a supreme deity reflected in all these 
aspects.of nature. 

However, you will naturally ask, where is there 
any similarity between the name of tfyt deity and 
the Chinese deity of the sky, Tim? The common 
worship of Jumala may prove some kind of religious 
concentration among the different Altaic nations in 
the North of Asia, but it does not prove any pre-* 
historic community of worship between those nation* 


and the ancient inhabitants of China. It is true that 
the Chinese Tien, with its three meanings of sky, god 
of the sky, ancf god in general, is the exact xsounter- 
part of the North Turanian^ Jumala ; hut still we want 
more ; we want, if possible, iSraces of the same n/tnfe 
of the deitf in China* in Mongolia, and Tatary, just 
as we found the name of Jupiter in India and Italy, 
and the naTne of El in Babylon and Palestine. 

Well, let us reinember that Chinese is a fiono- 
sy liable language, and thai the later Turanian dialects 
have entered into the agglutinative stage, that is to 
say, that they use derivative suffixes, and we shall 
then without much difficulty discover traces of the 
Chinese word Tien, with all its meanings, among 
some at least of the most important of the Turanian 
races. In the. Mongolian language we find Tmg-ri\ 
and tihte means, first, sky; then, god of the sky; then, 
god in general ; and, lastly, spirit or demon, whether 
good or bad. 

Thus we have gained the first firm ground, and we 
may now advance another step. It is a fortunate 
accident that this very word tengri is one of the few 
that can be traced back historically from its modern 

1 Turkish *tangry*((^kk or ijjf3, ted&n), ihe Yakuts 'tangara ' 
The Buriates place Dsaiagachi or 'Chief Creator of -Fortune' in the 
middle of their hut, the place of honour. At the door is the Emelgelji, 
the tutelary of the herds and young cattle, made of sheepskins. Outside 
the hut is the Chandaghatu, a name implying that the idol was fanned: 
of a white har^kin, the tutelary of the chase, and perhaps of wax. Afl 
these have been eipelled by Buddhism except Daaia^cM, 

Tengri, and introduced among the Buddhist drrifcitia* Setf 
Polo,' ed. Yule, vol. i. p 2go. 'The Supreme Good SJgordt ajppfcars to 
have been called by the Mongols Tengri (heavn\and Ehormuzda, and 
is identified by Schmidt with ih* Pe3nriaEca$cL IB BuddH* times 
he became identified vith Ipdra, L o. voL i p. 949. 


to its more ancient forms. Chinese writers^ when 
speaking of the ancient history of the Huns, tell us 
that i3ie title which the Huns gave t*o their leaders 
was tangli-kutu (or tchen-jti) 1 . This title is said to 
have had in their language the meaning of 'Son of 
Heaven,' which reminds us of tlje still current title of 
the Emperor of China, viz. 'Son of Heaven 2 / tien-tze, 
comyeying the meaTiing, not, as is commonly sup- 
posecHT of ' Son of God/ but c Son of Heaven/ or, as 
we should say, 'Emperor, by the grace of God.' 
Taking therefore tien*tse as corresponding to tangli- 
kutu, we arrive at the following equation : 

Hunnish Mongolian Chinese 

tarig-li teng-ri tien. 

Again, in the historical accounts which the Chinese 
give of the Tukiu, the ancestors of the Turks, it is 
said that they worshipped the Spirits of the ISarth, 
and that they called these spirits purteng-i~li. Hero 
the first syllable must be intended for earth, while in 
teng-irli we have again the same word as the Mon- 
golian tengri, only used, even at that early time, no 
longer in the sense of heaven, or god of heaven, but 
as a name of gods and spirits in general. We find 
a similar transition of meaning in the modern Yakuto 
word tangara. It means the sky, and^it means God ; 
but among the Christian converts in Siberia, tangara 
is also used to signify ' the Saints.' The wild reindeer 
is called in Takute ' God's reindeer/ because it lives in 
the open air, or because God alone takes cfre of it. 

Here, then, we have the same kind of evidence 
whicf enabled us to establish a primitive Aryan and 

1 See Schott, ' TJeber das Altaisolie SprachgesohlechV p. o. 
* See Sohott, ' Chinemsohe Literatur/ p. 63. 


a primitive Semitic religion: we have a common 
name, and this name given to the highest, deity, 
preserved in 'the monosyllabic language of China, 
and in the cognate, though agglutinative, dialects of 
some of the principal North Turanian tribes. , We 
find in these words,not merely a vague similarity 
of sound and meaning, but, by watching their growth 
in Chines^, Mongolian, and Turkish, we are abl* to 
discover in them traces of organic identity. Every- 
where they begin with the meaning of sky, they rise 
to the meaning of God, and they sink down again to 
the meaning of gods and spirits. The changes in the 
meaning of these words run parallel with the changes 
that took place in the religions of these nations 
which comprehended the first intimation of the 
Divine under ^the name of the sky, and thus formed 
for tlfemselves a god of the sky. By his various 
manifestations that god of the sky became more and 
more mythologically individualised, was broken up 
into many gods, and these many gods led again in 
the end to the concept of a God in general. Thus 
only can we explain historically, i. e. phonetically and 
etymologically, the connection between the French 
divinit^ and the Vedic Dyaus, sky; and the same 
applies to the Takute tangcvra, Samt, in its historical 
relation to the Chinese tien, sky. 

Did we allow ourselves to be guided by mere simi- 
larity of sound and meaning, it would be easy to take 
another stSp and to attempt a comparison between 
divine names occurring in the Northern and the 
Southern branches of the Turanian class. We saw, 
for instance, that the name of th supreme deity 
among the Samoyedes was Num, and we are told 


that among the Tibetans Nam means godhead. In 
mere seund Nam is no doubt much nearer to Num 
than Num is to the Finnish Juwula. Nevertheless 
th$ real affinity of the Sjunayede Mtm and the Fin- 
nish tfumala admits of no doubt, while it would be 
mere guesswork to connect Samoyede Num and Ti- 
betan Nam\ unless $i& phonetic rules had first been 
estaiil&hed which would justify the change of a into 
u, and a common source had been discovered from 
which both words could havQ sprung. 

If we now turn for a moment to the minor spirits 
believed in by the large masses in China, we shall 
ea^ly see that they, too, in their character are strik- 
ingly like the spirits worshipped by the North Tu- 
ranian tribes. These spirits in Chinese are called 
Shin 8 , which is really the name given- to every in- 
visible power or influence which can be perceived in 
operation in the universe. Some Shin or spirits re- 
ceive real worship, which is graduated according to 
their dignity; others are looked upon with fear. The 
spirits of pestilence are driven out and dispersed by 
exorcism; many are only talked about. There are 
so many spirits that it seems impossible to fix their 
exact number. Th% principal classes * ^re the celes- 
tial spirits (tfan shin), the terrestrial spirits (ti fa'), 
and the .Ancestral spirits (jin kwd\ and this is the 

is probably intended for *he word whioli Jaembkft In hi* 
a-EngliBh Dictionary,' p f 309, ^tes Tnam,* Thie rawmi 
heaven, sky. He adds that ynam-f el-dkrfr-po is Said to be a deity of the 
Horpa-w: Mongols. Nam-mk'a is 'the space above where the btafo 
ore flying, and the saints are dotting, where it lightens and thundwi/ 

MedhmBt, 'Eeply/p.11, 
* Ibid, p. ax. 

LECT0KE in. 139 

order 1 in which. they are ranked according to their 
dignity. Ampng celestial spirits (tim shin) vre find 
the spirits of the gun and the moon and the stars, 
the clouds, wind, thundery and rain; among terrestrial 
spirits, those of the mountains, the fields, the grain, 
the rivers* the trees? the year. Among the departed 
spirits ar^e those of the emperors, the sages, and other 
public benefactors, which are to be revered^Jb^ the 
whole nation, while each family has its own manes 
which are treated with special reverence and honoured 
by many superstitious rites 2 . 

The same state of religious feeling is exhibited 
among the North Turanian tribes, only without those 
minute distinctions and regulations in which the 
Chinese mind delights. The Samoyedes, as we saw, 
believed in a supreme god of heaven, called JNum; 
but Oastre'n, who lived so long among them, 'says : 
'The chief deities invoked by their priests or sorcer- 
ers, the Shamans, are the so-called Tadebcjos*, invi- 
sible spirits dwelling in the air, the earth, the water, 
and everywhere in nature. I have heard many a 
Samoyede say that they were merely the spirits of 
the departed, but others look upon them as a class 
of inferior delves.' 

The same scholar tells us (p. 105) that ' the mytho- 

1 Medhurst, 'Keply/ p 23. 'The spirits of heaven are called sUit; 
the spirits of earth are called lei; when men die, theit tfam&rfng aft& 
transformed fibula aad spirits are called aet.' 

9 Ibid. p. 43, * The great sacrifices are offered only to ^ <a- Skvn$~te> 
the same ad Tien. The five Te which used to be Joined Vftfajtkmy-te 
At the great border sacrifice were only the fife power* o* qttdtties of 
STtanff-te personified. Since the year AJX 136$ the wonftdp 
five 2% has been abolished. 1 

* Castr&o, 'Fmmsohe Mythologies,' p. 12*. 


logy of the Finns is flooded -with names of deities. 
Every gbject in nature has a genius, called haltia, 
which is supposed to be its creator and protector. 
These spirits were not tied ^p these outward objects, 
bu wre free to roam at>out, and had a body and 
soul, and their own well-marked personality. Nor 
did their existence depend on the existence of a 
singfe object; for though there was no Sbject in 
nature without a genius, the genius was not con- 
fined to any single object,but comprehended the 
whole class or genus. This mountain-ash, this 
stone/ this house has its own genius, but the same 
genius cares for all other mountain-ashes, stones, and 
houses. 1 

We have only to translate this into the language 
of logic, and we shall understand at once what has 
happened here as elsewhere in the growth of religious 
ideas and mythological names. What we call a gene- 
ral concept, or what used to be called 'essentia gene- 
ralis,' 'the tree-hood, 9 'the stone-hood/ 'the house- 
hood/ in fact, the genus tree, stone, and house, is what 
the Finns and Samoyedes call the genius, the haltia, 
the tadelqo, and what the Chinese call Shin. We 
speak very glibly of^an essentia genercdis, but to the 
unschooled mind this was too great an Effort. Some* 
thing substantial and individual had to be retained 
when trees had to be spoken of as a forest, or days 
as a year; and in this transition period from indi- 
vidual to general conceptions, from the intuitional to 
the conceptual, from the real to the abstract, the 
shadow, the ghost, the power or the spirit of the 
forest, of the yea'r, of the clouds, and the lightning, 
took possession of the human mind, and a class of 


being% was called into existence which stands before 
us as so-called deities in the religion and mythology 
of the ancienf world. 

The worship of ancestral spirits is likewise shared 
in common by the North Turanian races ar\d the 
Chinese. I do not lay much stresfi on that fact, 
because the worship of the spirits of the departed is 
perhaps Uhe most widely spread form of natural super- 
stition all over the world. It is nevertheless Uf some 
interest that we should i$eet this superstition so fully 
developed in China and in the whole North of Asia. 
Most of the Finnish and Altaic tribes, says Castren 
(p. 119), cherish a belief that death, which they look 
upon with terrible fear, does not entirely destroy 
individual existence. And even those who do not 
profess belief in a future life, observe certain cere- 
monits which show that they think of the departed 
as still existing. They take food, dresses, oxen, 
knives, tinder-boxes, kettles, and sledges, and place 
them on the graves ; nay, if pressed, they would con- 
fess that this is done to enable the departed to hunt, 
to fish, and to %ht, as they used to do when alive. 
Lapps and Finns admit that the body decays, but 
they imagine that a new body is given to the dead 
in the lower ^rld. Others speSk of the departed as 
ghosts or spirits, who either stay in the grave or in 
the realm of the dead, or who roam about'on earth, 
particularly in the dead of night, and during storm 
and rain. They give signs of themselves in the howl- 
ing of the wind, the rustling of leaves, the cracfcHng 
of the fire, and in a thousand other ways. TEey are 
invisible to ordinary mortals, but*the sorcerers or 
Shamans can see them, and can even divine their 


thoughts. It is curious that in general these Spirits 
$re supposed to he mischievous ; and the most mis- 
chievous of all are the spirits of the departed priests 
(p, 123). They interrupt the sleef, they send illness 
&nl misfortunes, and they frouble the conscience of 
their "relatives.* Everything is done to l|eep them 
away. When the corpse has been carried out of the 
houqe, a redhot stonft is thrown after the ^departed, 
as a cfearm to prevent his return. The offerings of 
food and other articles deposited on the grave are 
accounted for by some, as depriving the dead of any 
excuse for coming to the house, and fetching these 
things himself. Among the Tchuvashes a son uses 
thefollowing invocation when offering sacrifice to the 
spirit of his father: We honour thee with a feast; 
look, here is bread for thee, and different kinds of 
meat; thou hast all thou canst want: but cl# not 
trouble us, do not come near us ' (p. 123). 

It is certainly a general belief that if they receive 
no such offerings, the dead revenge themselves by 
sending diseases and other misfortunes. The ancient 
Hiongnu or Huns killed the prisoners of war on the 
tombs of their leaders; for the Shamans assured them 
that the anger of the spirits could not be appeased 
otherwise. The sanfe Huns had regular sacrifices in 
honour of their ancestral spirits. One tribe, the 
Topas, wfeich had migrated from Siberia to Central 
Asia, sent ambassadors with offerings to the tombs of 
their ancestors. Their tombs were protected with 
high palings, to prevent the living from clambering 
in, anti the dead from clambering out. Some of these 
tombs were magnificently adorned 1 , and at last grew 

1 Oastr&i, ' Fianisolie Mythologie,' p. I aa. 


almost, and in China 1 altogether, into temples where 
the spirits of the departed were actually worshipped, 
All this taketf place by slow degrees ; it begi&s with 
placing a flower on*the tomb ; it ends with worship- 
ping the spirits of departed emperors 2 %s equal* of 
the Supreme Spirit, the Shang~te or 3Hen, and as en* 
joying a divine rank*far above other spirits or Shin. 

The difference, at first sight, ^between the minute 
ceremonial of China and the homely worship oWftnns 
and Lapps may seem enormous ; but if we trace both 
back as far as we can, we see fyat the early stages of 
their religious belief are curiously alike. Firat, a 
worship of heaven, as the emblem of the most exalted 
conception which the untutored mind of man can en- 
tertain, expanding with the expanding thoughts of 
its worshippers, and eventually leading and lifting 
the sil from" horizon to horizon to a belief in that 
which is beyond all horizons, a belief in that 
which is infinite. Secondly, a belief in deathless 
spirits or powers of nature; which supplies the more 
immediate and every-day wants of the religious in- 
stinct of man, satisfies the imagination, and furnished 
the earliest poetry with elevated themes. Lastly, a 
belief in the existence of ancestral spirits : which im- 
plies, consciously or unconsciously in a spiritual or in 
a material form, that which is one of the life-springs 
of all religion, a belief in immortality. 

Allow me in conclusion to recapitulate shortly the 
results of this Lecture. 

1 TOon an emperor died, and men erected an ajaoeBfcwl 
eet up a parental tablet (as a resting-place for the ' rihin* r Spe&of the 
departed), they called him Te. Medjwuat, 'ftupfry,' p. 7; from the 
Ze-ke, voL i. p. 49. 

y,' p. 45, 


We found, first of all, that there is a natural con- 
nexior^ between language and religion, and that there- 
fore the classification of languages is applicable also 
to the ancient religions of the world. 

"W& found, secondly, th&t there was a common Aryan 
religion before"' the separation gf the Ary&n race; a 
common Semitic religion before the separation of the 
Semitic race; and jf common Tnranic religion before 
the sljmration of the Chinese and the other tribes 
belonging to the Turanian *ckss. We found, in fact, 
three ancient centres^of religion as we had before 
thre ancient centres of language, and we have thus 
gained, I believe, a truly historical basis for a scientific 
tr&ttment of the principal religions of the world. 


MABOH 12, 1870. 

WHEN I came to deliver ihe first of this short 
course of lectures, I confess I felt sorry for 
having undertaken so difficult a task; and if I could 
have withdrawn from it with honour, I should gladly 
have done so. Now that I have only this one lecture 
left, I feel equally sorry, and I wish I could continue 
my coiyse in order to say something more of what I 
wished to say, and what in four lectures I could say 
but very imperfectly. From the announcement of 
my lectures you must have seen that in what I called 
' An Introduction to the Science of Religion 7 1 did not 
intend to treat of more than some preliminary ques- 
tions. I chiefly wanted to show in what sense a truly 
scientific study of religion was possible, what materials 
there are to eniible us to gain a trustworthy know- 
ledge of the principal religions of the world, and 
according to what principles these religions rmay be 
classified. It would perhaps have been more jn- 
teresting to*some of my hearers if we had rn^ea 
once into the ancient temples to look #* tt$?%&$ 
idols of the past, and to discover, if possible, seifib of 
the ftmdamental ideas that found expression in the 
ancient systems of foifck and worship. But in order 


to explore -with real advantage any ruins, whether 
of stone or of thought, it is necessary that we should 
kno-vf where to look and how to look. In most 
works on the history of ancient religions we are 
iriven about like forlorn tourists in a vast museum 
whdre ancien^ and modern statues, gems^of Oriental 
and European workmanship, Original works of art 
and mere copies ate piled up together, ^nd at the 
en3 of our journey we only feel bewildered and dis- 
heartened. We have seen much, no doubt, but we 
carry away very little. It* is better, before we enter 
int<i these labyrinths, that we should spend a few 
hours in making up our minds as to what we really 
w^nt to see and what we may pass by; and if in 
these introductory lectures we have only arrived at 
a dear view on these points, you will find hereafter 
that our time has not been altogether silent ingrain. 

You will have observed that I have carefully ab- 
stained from entering on the domain of what I call 
Theoretic, as distinguished from Comparative Theology. 
Theoretic theology, or, as it is sometimes called, the 
philosophy of religion, has, as far as I can judge, its 
right place at the end, not at the beginning of Com- 
parative Theology. I have made no secret of my own 
conviction that a study of Comparative Theology will 
produce with regard to Theoretic Theology the same 
revolution which a study of Comparative Philology 
has produced in what used to be called the Philosophy 
of language. You know how all speculations on the 
nature of language, on its origin, its development, its 
natural growth and inevitable decay have had to be 
taken up afresji from the very beginning, after the 
new light thrown on the history of language by the 


comparative method. I look forward to the same 
results with respect to philosophical inquiries into 
the nature of religion, its origin, and its development, 
I do not mean to say'that all former speculations on 
these subjects will become Tisiless. Plato's Cratylut, 
even the Sfymes of Harris, and Horn* Tooke's *ZW- 
versions of Purl&y have not become useless after the 
work done Jay Grimm and Bopp, by Humboldt ajid 
Bunsen. But I believe that philosophers who specu- 
late on the origm of religion and on the psychological 
conditions of faith, will in future write more circum- 
spectly, and with less of that dogmatic assurance 
which has hitherto distinguished so many speculations 
on the philosophy of religion, not excepting those af 
Schelling and Hegel. Before the rise of geology 
it was easy to speculate on the origin of the earth ; 
before the rise* of glossology, any theories on the 
revealed, the mimetic, the inter] ectional, or the con- 
ventional origin of language might easily be held 
and defended. Not so now, when facts have filled 
the place that was formerly open to theories, and 
when those who have worked most carefully among 
the d&bris of the earth or the strata of languages are 
most reluctant to approach the great problem of the 
first beginnings. 

So much in order to explain why in this intro- 
ductory fcourse I have confined myself within narrower 
limits than some of my hearers seem to have expected. 
And now, asI have but one hour left, I shall try to 
make the best use of it I can, by devoting it entirely 
to a point on which I have not yet touched, viz/7m 
the right spirit in which ancient religions ought to be 
studied and interpreted. 


No judge, if he had before him the tforst of 
criminals, would treat him as most historians and 
theologians have treated the religion^ of the -world. 
Every act in the lives of their founders which shows 
ffliai they were but metf, is eagerly seized and judged 
without merdjr; every doctrinp that is not carefully 
guarded is interpreted in the worst sense that it will 
boftr; every act of*worship that differs frwn our -own 
way%f serving God is held up to ridicule and con- 
tempt. And this is not dpne by accident, but with a 
set purpose, nay, vftth something of that artificial 
serfse of duty which stimulates the counsel for the 
defence to see nothing but an angel in his own client, 
aSid anything but an angel in the plaintiff on the 
other side. The result has. been as it could not be 
otherwise a complete miscarriage of justice, an utter 
misapprehension of the real character and purpose of 
the ancient religions of mankind ; and, as a necessary 
consequence, a failure in discovering the peculiar 
features which really distinguish Christianity from 
all the religions of the world, and secure to its 
founder his own peculiar place in the history of the 
world, far away from VasishiAa, Zoroaster, and Buddha, 
from Moses and Mohammed, from Confucius and 
Lao-tse. By undtily depreciating aft other religions, 
we 3&ave placed our own in a position -which its 
founder never intended for it; we have torn "it away 
from the sacred context of the history of the world; 
we have ignored, or wilfully narrowed the sundry 
times and divers manners in which, in times past, 
God spake unto the fathers by the prophets; and in- 
stead of recognising Christianity as coming in the 
fulness of time, and as the fulfilment of ttie hopes and 


desires of the whole world, we have brought ourselves 
to look upon yis advent as the only broken link in 
that unbroken chain which is rightly called the Divine 
government of the world, 

Nay, worse than this : there are people who, from 
mere ignorance of the ancient religions of mankind, 
have adopted a doctrine more unchristian than any 
that could te found in the pages of the religious J?oftks 
of antiquity, viz. that all the nations of the earth, 
before the rise of Christianity, were mere outcasts, 
forsaken and forgotten of thefr Father in heaven, 
without a knowledge of God, without a hope of sal- 
vation. If a comparative study of the religions of the 
world produced but this one result, that it drove this 
godless heresy out of every Christian heart, and made 
us see again ia the whole history of the world the 
eternal wisdom and love of God towards all His 
creatures, it would have done a good work. 

And it is high time that this good work should be 
done. We have learnt to do justice to the ancient 
poetry, the political institutions, the legal enactments, 
the systems of philosophy, and the works of art of 
nations differing from ourselves in many respects ; we 
have brought qjpselves to value $ven the crude and 
imperfect beginnings in all these spheres of mental 
activity; and I believe we have thus learn^ lessons 
from ancient history which we could not have learnt 
anywhere else. We can admire the temples of fee 
ancient world, whether in Egypt* Babytao, or Chepee j 
we can stand in raptures before the statues of Hodias j 
and only when we approach the religious conceptions 
which find their expression in the temples of Athene 
and in the statues of Zeus, we turn away with pity 


or scorn, we call these gods mere idols and images, 
and Mass foeir worshippers Periklas, Phidias, So- 
krates, and Plato with the worshippers of stocks and 
stones. I do not deny Jftsfc the religions of the Baby- 
lonTans, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans yrere imper- 
fect and full of errors, particularly in their later 
stages, but I maintain that the fact of tjjese ancient 
people having any religion at all, however imper- 
fect, raises them higher, and brings them nearer 
to us, than all their worfes of art, all their poetry, 
alUtheir philosophy? Neither their art nor their 
poetry nor their philosophy would have been possible 
without religion ; and if we will but look without 
prejudice, if we will but judge as we ought always to 
judge, with unwearying love and charity, we shall be 
surprised at that new world of bedTuty an truth 
which, like the azure of a vernal sky, rises before us 
from behind the clouds of the ancient mythologies. 

We can speak freely and fearlessly; we can afford 
to be charitable. There was a time when it was 
otherwise. There was a time when people imagined 
that truth, particularly the highest truth, the truth of 
religion, could only conquer by blind zeal, by fire and 
sword. At that tkne all idols were to be overthrown, 
their altars to be destroyed, and their worshippers to 
be cut &> pieces. But there came a time when the 
sword was to be put up into its place. . . . And if even 
after that time there was a work to worlj; and a fight 
to fight, which required the fiery zeal of apostles and 
martyrs, that time also is now past; the conquest is 
gained, and we^have time to reflect calmly on what is 
past and what is still to come. 

Surely we need not be afraid of Baal or Jupiter. 


Our dangers and our difficulties are now of a very 
different kind.. Those who believe that there is a 
God, and that He created heaven and earth, and that 
He ruleth the world by'IEf unceasing providenqp, 
cannot believe that millions of human beings; all 
created like ourselves* in the image of God, were, in 
their time of ignorance, so utterly abandoned that 
their whole religion was falsehood, their whole w^rsTup 
a farce, their whole life a mockery. An honest and 
independent study of the*religions of the world will 
teach us that it was not so will teach us the 

lesson which it taught St. Augustine, that there is no 
religion which does not contain some grains of truth. 
Nay, it will teach us more; it will enable us to see 
in the history of the ancient religions, more clearly 
than anywhere else, the Divine education of the human 

I know this is a view which has been much ob- 
jected to, but I hold it as strongly as ever. If we 
must not read in the history of the whole human race 
the daily lessons of a Divine teacher and guide, if 
there is no purpose, no increasing purpose in the suc- 
cession of the religions of the world, then we might 
as well shut uft the godless book <$f history altogether, 
and look upon men as no better than the grass which 
is to-day in the field and to-morrow is cast^ into the 
oven. Ma.-n would then be indeed of less value than 
the sparrows, for none of them is forgotten before 

But those who imagine that, in order to mafce^sure 
of their own salvation, they must have a great gulf 
fixed between themselves and all the other nations of 
the world between iheir own religion and the re- 


ligions of Zoroaster, Buddha, or Confucius can hardly 
be aw^&re how strongly the interpretation of the his- 
tory of the religions of the world, as an education of 
tfce human race, can be "supported by authorities 
before which l^ey themselves would probably bow in 
silence. We need not appeal to an English bishop to 
prove the soundness, or to a German philosopher to 
pnfvBjbhe truth, of this view. If we wanted authori- 
ties we could appeal to Popes, to the Fathers of the 
Church, to the Apostles thSmselves, for they have all 
upheld the same view with no wavering or uncertain 

I pointed out before that the simultaneous study 
of the Old and the New Testament, with an occa- 
sional reference to the religion and philosophy of 
Greece and Borne, had supplied Christian Divines 
with some of the most useful lessons for a wider 
comparison of all the religions of the world. In 
studying the Old Testament, and observing in it the 
absence of some of the most essential truths of Chris- 
tianity, they, too, had asked with surprise why the 
interval between the fall of man and his redemption 
had been so long, why men were allowed so long to 
walk in darkness.* and whether the^ heathens had 
really no place in the counsels of God, Here is the 
answer gf a Pope, of Leo the Great 1 (440-461) * 

'Let those who with impious murnmrings find fault 
with the Divine dispensations, and who complain 
about the lateness of Our Lord's nativity, cease from 
their grievances, as if what was carried out in this 
last age of the v^orld, had not been impending in time 
past. . , . What the apostles preached, the prophets 

1 Hardwick, 'Christ and other Masters,* vol. i. p, 85. 


had announced before, and what has always been 
believed, cannot be said to have been fulfilled too 
late. By this delay of His work of salvation the 
wisdom and love of Qofl fyave only made us m$ra 
fitted for Jis call ; so that, what had^een announced 
before by many signs*and words and mysteries during 
so many Centuries, should not }& doubtful or uncer- 
tain in the days of the Gospel, . . . God has not 'pro- 
vided for the interests of men by a new counsel or 
by a late compassion ; but He had instituted from the 
beginning for all men one and the same path of sal- 

This is the language of a Pope of Leo the Greai. 

Now let us hear what Irenseus says, and how he 
explains to himself the necessary imperfection of the 
early, religions of mankind. 'A mother/ he says, 
'may indeed offer to her infant a complete repast, but 
her infant cannot yet receive the food which is meant 
for full-grown men. In the same manner God might 
indeed from the beginning have offered to man the 
truth in its completeness, but man was unable to 
receive it, for he was still a child.* 

If this, too, is considered a presumptuous reading 
of the counsek of God, we have, .s a last appeal, the 
words of St. Paul, that 'the law was the schoolmaster 
to ther Jews/ joined with the words of St, Jeter, * Of 
a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons, 
but in evejy nation he that feareth him d workeA 
righteousness is accepted with him.' 

But, as I said before, we need not appeal toraay 
authorities, if we will but read tk$ records of the 
ancient religions of the world wfth an open heart 
and in a charitable spirit in a spirit that thinketh 


no evil, but rejoices in the truth wherever it can be 

I suppose that most of us, sotfner or later in life, 
hove felt how the whole world this wicked world, 
as w& call it 4& changed as if by magic, if once we 
can make up our mind to give" men credit for good 
motives, never to b^ suspicious, never to think evil, 
never -*o think ourselves better than our neighbours. 
Trust a man to be true and good, and, even if he is 
not, your trust will tend to "make him true and good. 
It ifiuthe same with the religions of the world. Let 
us but once make up our mind to look in them for 
what is true and good, and we shall hardly know our 
old religious again. If they are the work of the devil, 
as many of us have been brought up to believe, 
then never was there a kingdom so divided Against 
itself from the very beginning. There is no religion 
or if there is, I do not know it which does not say, 
'Do good, avoid evil.' There is none which does not 
contain what Eabbi Hillel called the quintessence of 
all religions, the simple warning, 'Be good, my boy.' 
'Be good, my boy/ may seem a very short catechism; 
but let us add to it, 'Be good, my boy, for God's sake,' 
and we have in it rery nearly the wh*le of the Law 
and the Prophets. 

I wishj could read you the extracts I have collected 
from the sacred books of the ancient world, grains of 
truth more precious to me iihan grains of gold; prayers 
so simple and so true that we could all join in them if 
we once accustomed ourselves to the strange sounds of 
Sanskrit or Chinese. I can to-day give you a few 
specimens only. 

Here is a prayer of YasishtfAa, a Vedic prophet, 


addressed to Vaniwa, the Greek Oipavos, an ancient 
name of the $ky and of the god who resides in the 

I shall read you one vrse at least in the origina,} 
it is the 86th hymn of the seventh book of the Big- 
veda so J that you tnay hear the very sounds which 
more than three thousand year^ ago were uttered for 
the first lime in a village on the borders of JJie^Sut- 
ledge, then called the tfatadru, by a man who felt as 
we feel, who spoke as we speak, who believed in 
many points as we believe a dark-complexioned 
Hindu, shepherd, poet, priest, patriarch, and certainly 
a man who, in the noble army of prophets, deserves 
a place by the side of David. And does it not show 
the indestructibility of the spirit, if we see how the 
waves which? by a poetic impulse, he started on the 
vast ocean of thought have been heaving and spread- 
ing and widening, till after centuries and centuries 
they strike to-day against our shores and tell us, in 
accents that cannot be mistaken, what passed through 
the mind of that ancient Aryan poet when he felt the 
presence of an almighty Ood, the maker of heaven 
and earth, and felt at the same time the burden of 
his sin, and grayed to his God^that He might take 
that burden from him, that He might forgive him 
his sin? When you listen to the strange pounds of 
this Vedic hymn, you are listening, even in this Eoyal 
Institution, to spirit-rapping to real spirit-j&ppiBgs, 
YasishtfAa*is really among us again, and if ycm will 
accept me as his interpreter, you will find that we 
can all understand what the old poet wished to say 1 : 

1 M. M,, 'History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature/ p. 540. 


* Dhir& tv asya mahinS, 
TO yas tastambha rodasi Add urvi, 
pra n&kam n'shvam nunude briliantaw, 
dvit& nakshatram pajjrathafc k& bhuma, 
Wise and mighty are fiie works of him who stem- 
med asunder the wide firmaments (heaven rind earth). 
He lifted on high the bright and glorious heaven ; he 
streitehgd out apart the starry sky and the earth. 

' Do I say this to my own self? How can I get near 
unto Varuna? Will he accept my offering without 
displeasure? When shS.ll I, with a quiet mind, see 
him propitiated? 

( 1 ask, Varuwa, wishing to know this my sin; 
I go to ask the wise. The sages all tell me the same: 
rt Varuna it is who is angry with thee." 

* Was it for an old sin, Vaxuna, thai thou wishest 
to destroy thy Mend, who always praises theeT Tell 
me, thou unconquerable Lord I and I will quickly 
turn to thee with praise, freed from sin. 

( Absolve us from the sins of our fathers, and from 
those which we committed with our own bodies. 
Release Vasish^a, King, like a thief who has 
feasted on stolen cattle ; release him like a calf from 
the rope. 

c lt was not our own doing, Yaruna, it was a 
slip ; an ^intoxicating draught, passion, dice, thpught- 
lessness. The old is there to mislead the young; 
even sleep is not free from mischief. 

'Let me, freed from sin, do service to the angry 
godlike a slave to his lord 1 . The lord god enlight- 
eneth the foolish ; he, the wisest, leads his worshipper 
to wealth. 

J &*> Benfey, 'Gottingar Gelehrte Nachribhten,' 1874, p. 370. 


lord Varuna, may this song go well to thy 
heait! May we prosper in acquiring and peeping! 
Protect us, gods, always with your blessings/ 

I am not blind to ttye blemishes of this ancient 
prayer, but I am not blind 4 to its beauty either, lad 
I think yfcu will admit that the discovery of even one 
such poem among the hymns of the Rig-veda, and 
the certainty that such a poem #as composed in india 
at least three thousand years ago, without any inspi- 
ration but that which aU can find who seek for it if 
haply they may find it, is woll worth the labour of 
a life. It shows that man was never forsaken of God, 
and that conviction is worth more to the student of 
history than all the dynasties of Babylon and Egfypt, 
worth more than all lacustrian villages, worth more 
than the slgills and jaw-bones of Neanderthal or 

I add a few more translations of Vedic hymns, some 
of which have been published elsewhere, while one is 
given here for the first time 1 


1. Let me not yet, Varuna^ enter into the house 
of earth ; have mercy, almighty, have mercy! 

2. If I move along trembling, like a cloud driven; 
by the wind ; have mercy, almighty, have mercy I 

3. Through want of strength, tiiou .gstapqpg 
bright god, have I gone astray 5 have H*ercy, b*^^, 
have mercy I 

4. Thirst came upon the worshiper, though &a 

1 See < Einleitnug in die Voglefebefcd* MigioDwiawnach^' p. an. 


stood in the midst of the waters; have tfiercy, 
Blmigbty, have mercy 1 

5. Whenever we men, Varuna, conttnit an offence 
before the heavenly host, whenever we break the law 
thfough thoughtlessness ; punish us not, god, for 
that offence* 

(RIG-VEDA I. 35). 

i. However we break thy laws from day to day, 
men as we are, god, Varuna, 

3. Do not deliver us unto death, nor to the blow of 
the Hurious ; nor to the wrath of the spiteful I 

3. To propitiate thee, Varuna, we unbend thy 
mind with songs, as the charioteer (unties) a weary 

4. Away from me they flee dispirited, intent only 
on gaining wealth ; as birds to their nests. 

5. When shall we bring hither the man, who is 
victory to the warriors ; when shall we bring Varuna, 
the wide-seeing, to be propitiated? 

[6, They (Mtra and Varuna) take this in common; 
gracious, they never Ml the faithful grver.] 

7. He who knows the place of the Tbirds that fly 
through the sky, who on the waters knows the 
ships j 

8. He, the upholder of order, who knows the twelve 
months with the offspring of each, and knows the 
month that is engendered afterwards; 

9. He who knows the track of the wind, of the 
wide, the bright/the mighty; and knows those who 
reside on high; 


io.*He, the upholder of order, Yarurca, sits down 
among his people ; he, the wise, sits there to govern, 

11. From tbence perceiving all wondrous things, he 
sees what has been and what will be done. 

12. May he, the wise A<Hty#,make our paths straight 
all our days ; may he prolong our livgs ! 

13. Yaruwa, wearing golden mail, has put on his 
shining clgak ; the spies sat dowgi around him, 

14. The god whom the scoffers do not ptovoke, 
nor the tormentors of men, nor the plotters of mis- 
chief ; 

15. He, who gives to men glory, and not half glory, 
who gives it even to our own selves ; 

1 6. Yearning for him, the far-seeing, my thoughts 
move onwards, as kine move to their pastures. 

17. Let us speak together again, because my honey 
has been brought : that thou mayest eat what thou 
likest, like a friend 1 . 

1 8. Did I see the god who is to be seen by all, did 
I see the chariot above the earth? He must have 
accepted my prayers. 

19. hear this my calling, Varuna, be gracious 
now I longing for help, I have called upon thee. 

zo. Thou, wise god, art lord of all, of heaven and 
earth: listen 09. thy way! 

21. That I may live, take from me the upper rope, 
loose the middle, and remove the lowest I 

In most of the hymns of ihe Eig-veda, however, tbd 
gods assume a far more mythological character tiban 
in these songs addressed to Yaruna, though the spiri- 

1 See BdletDflan, in Orient wid Occident, ii. p. 147. One migfct lead 
totri-iva, * because honey hag been, fcroight by me, as by a prieet, sweet 
to taste.' 


tual and ethical character of the 'deity is but Seldom 
entirely lost. If we take for instance a short hymn ad- 
dresseA to Agni or Fire, we easily see that Agni (ignis) 
is conceived as the representative of fire, yet we also 
perceive even here a mgre distant background, or a 
true Qivine element, only enveloped in a mythological 


i. JSgni, accept this log which I offer to thee, accept 
this my service ; listen well* to these my songs. 

3. With this log, Agni, may we worship thee, 
thoif son of strength, conqueror of horses ! and with 
this hymn, thou high-born 1 

3- May we, thy servants, serve thee with songs, 
granter of riches, thou who lovest songs and delightest 
in riches! 

4. Thou lord of wealth and giver of wealth, fob thou 
wise and powerful ; drive away from us the enemies I 

5. He gives us rain from heaven, he gives us in- 
violable strength, he gives us food a thousandfold. 

6. Youngest of the gods, their messenger, their in- 
vofcer, most deserving of worship, come, at our praise, 
to him who worships thee and longs for thy help. 

7. For thou, sage, goest wisely between these 
two creations (heaven and earth, gods and men), like 
a friendly messenger between two hamlets I 

8. Thou art wise, and thou hast been pleased: 
perform thou, intelligent Agni, the sacrifice without 
interruption, sit down on this sacred grass ! 

Here we may clearly observe that peculiar blending 
of ethical and physical elements in the character of 
one and the same deity, a blending which seems 


strange to us, but must have been perfectly natural 
in an earlier stage of religious thought, for w meet 
with the same ideas everywhere, whenever we are able 
to trace back the growth ef religious concepts to their 
first beginnings, not only among the Aryan nations, 
but in Aftiea, in America, and eveln in Australia, 
though nowhere with the same clearness and fulness 
as in the h^mns of the Yedic Aryans. 

I have often expressed my opinion tiiat we ought 
to be careful in ascribingthe same high antiquity to 
everything occurring in the Ei^-veda. Not that I re- 
tract what I tried to prove in my ' History of Ancient 
Sanskrit Literature,' that the whole collection of the 
hymns must have been finished to the last lefter 
before the beginning of the Br&hmana period. Nor 
am I aware that a single weak joint has been dis- 
.cover$L by any of my numerous critics in the chain 
of arguments on which I relied. But scientific ho- 
nesty obliges me nevertheless to confess openly that 
I cannot even now feel quite convinced in my own. 
mind that all the hymns, all the verses, all the words 
and syllables in our text of the Edg-veda are really 
of the same high antiquity. No doubt, we should 
approach all such questions witiiout any preconceived 
opinions, but we cannot on the o3ier hand forget all 
we have been taught by a study of post-Vedic litera- 
ture, or by a study of other ancient literatures. We 
must wait for further evidence, and be eareful^^rt to 
force these researches into a false directiw by /^^ 
^mature dicta. In order to gjlve a epacHnen of wfifct 
J mean, I shall give a translation of the wall-k&trtfa 
hymn to Vwvaka^man from the last Handala, a Slan- 
tfala whiqh &as generally been Considered, though, as 


yet, without very definite reasons, as a repository of 
more Inodern poems. 

The very name of the deity, addressed in this hymn, 
"SJsvakarman, indicates thafc the poet did not belong to 
the Earliest period of Vedic religion. It occurs as a 
proper name in the tenth Manefeia only. Originally 
Vitfvakarman, the maker of all things, is an epithet of 
se-9%raj old gods. Indra is called Visvakannan 1 , like- 
wise Sfrrya, the sun 2 , and Visvakrit, he who makes 
everything, occurs in the j&fcharva-veda 3 as an epithet 
of typi, the fire, who In the Br^hmawas 4 also is iden- 
tified with Vwvakarman. Visvakarman, as an inde- 
pepdent, but very abstract deity appears, like Prar$- 
pati and similar divine individuals, as the creator, or, 
more correctly, as the fashioner and architect of the 
universe. In the hymns dedicated to him some rays 
break through here and there from the dark mytho- 
logical background through which and from which 
the concept of Visvakarman arose. Sometimes we are 
still able to recognise the traces of Agni, sometimes of 
Sftrya, although the poets themselves think of him 
chiefly as the Creator. Thus we read in one verse : 

'The seer and a priest, who offering all the worlds 
as a sacrifice, camedown as our fathy, he, appearing 
first, entered among mortals, desiring wealth with 

This, at first sight, is not very clear, nor do I pre- 
tend to say that this verse has as yet been rendered 
quite intelligible, in spite of the efforts of various 
translators and commentators. Still we may see a 
little light, if ^we remember that Vwvakarman, the 

1 Big-Veda* viii. 98, a. a Ibid. x. 170, 4. 

3 Atharva-yeda, vi. 47, z. * &atapatha-1br&lunaft^ ir, 2, a. 


maker of all things, was originally Agni, the god of 
fire, and more particularly, the god of the fire atfd the 
light of the morning. Agni, as the god of the 
morning (aushasya), is often conceived as a priesi, 
who, with his splendour, pours out the whole -World 
and offers it as a moraing sacrifice. Such a sacrifice 
is represented as taking place either at the beginning 
of every day, or at the beginning of a new yqar,*or, 
by another step, at the beginning of the world. The 
light of the morning sun wtis perceived by the poet as 
illuminating the world, like the 'actual fires lighteg in 
the morning on every hearth. Or the poet might see 
in the light of the rising sun a power that brings 
forth the whole world, brings it into sight and being, 
in fact makes or creates the world. This is a poetical, 
perhaps a fantastic idea; nevertheless it is con- 
ceivable ; and in interpreting the words of the Veda, 
we must never rest till we arrive at something that 
is at least conceivable. 

The poet again seems to think of Agni, the fire, 
when he says of Vbvakarman that he settled down 
as a father among men. The germ of this conception 
lies in the light of the morning appearing first as 
something distant and divine, but fhen, unlike other 
divine powers, remaining with men on earth, on the 
very hearth of every dwelling. This thought that 
Agni is the first to take up his abode with men, that 
his presence is the condition of all human, activity, 
workmanship, and art, and that through his blessing 
alone men obtain health and wealth, is expressed in 
many Vedic songs in ever varying ways. 

If we transfer these thoughts to the Ykvakarman, 
the maker or shaper of all things, some of the darfc 
M % 


words of the first verse become more intelligible, 
white some of the translations hitherto published 
leave the impression as if some of the Vedic poets 
bad really connected no thought whatever with their 
metrical effusions. 

i. l * What was the place, what was the support, and 
where was it, from jrhence the all-seeing "^vakarman 
(the Aaker of all things), when producing the earth, 
displayed the heaven by his might? 

z. 'He, the one God, whose eyes are everywhere, 
whese mouth, whose arms, whose feet are everywhere ; 
he, when producing heaven and earth, forges them 
together with his arms and with the wings. 

3. 2e What was the forest, what was the tree 8 , from 
which they cut out heaven and earth ? Ye wise, seek 
in your mind that place on which he Stood w^en sup- 
porting the worlds. 

4. * O Visvakarman, rejoicing in the sacrifice, teach 
thy friends what are thy highest abodes, and what 
are thy lowest, and what are these thy middle abodes ! 
Sacrifice for thyself, increasing thy body 4 . 

1 Dr. Muir translates this verse : ' Our father, who, a rishi and a 
priest, celebrated a saciifioe offering up all these gjeatures, he, earnestly 
desiring substance, he, the archetype, entered into later man.' 
Langlois ; ' Que le riohi (droa), notre pontife et notre pere, qui par son 
sacrifice % forme" tons ces mondes, vienne s'aeseoir (& notr fttyer) . Qa*il 
desire et bemsse nos ofi&andea, Habitant des regions snperienrea, il 
descend aussi vers nous.' 

* Of. j8Veta*vatara TJpan lii. 3. 

8 We say fai? or materies, matter ; Eig-Veda, x. 31, 7. 

This expression also 'Sacrifioe for thyself, increasing thy body/ 
refers primarily to Agni. It was a familiar idea with the Brahman* 
to look upon the are both as the subject and the object of a sacrifice. 
The fire embraced the offering, and was thus a kind of priest ; it carried 
& te- the god*, and wae thus a kind of mediator between gods and men. 

LECTURE rv, 163 

5. * maker of all things, growing by the oblations, 
sacrifice for thyself, for earth and for heavenj Let 
other men wait around in darkness, but among us let 
the wise man be powerful^ 

6. Let us invoke to-day, for our protection in battlfe, 
the lord of speech, Visvakannan, th0 maker of all 
things, who inspires our mind. May he accept all 
our offerings, he who is a blessing to everybody, jmd 
who performs good deeds for our safety! 1 

My next extract will be from the Zendavesta, the 
sacred book of the Zoroastrians, older in its language 
than the cuneiform inscriptions of Cyrus, Darius, 
Xerxes, those ancient kings of Persia who knew that 
they were kings by the grace of Awramazda> the 
Zend Ahurd magddo\ and who placed his sacred 
image high on the mountain-records of Behistun, 
That *ncient book, or its fragments at least, have 
survived many dynasties and kingdoms, and are 
still believed in by a small remnant of the Persian 
racg, now settled at Bombay, and known all over th 
wond by the came of Parsis. 

The first extract is taken from the Yagna, forming 
its thirtieth chapter. It has been translated or, I 

But the fiie represented also something divine, a god to whom honour 
was due, and thus it became both the object and the subject of the 
sacrifice.* Hence the idea that Agni sacrifices Mmyflfj that he offers a 
sacrifice to himself, and likewise that he offers himself as a sacrifice 
This led to many later legends, see Both, 'Kirukta,' p. 142. Agni TO# 
also conceived as representing the rising sun and the wwon^ 9f4 &W 
that point of view sunrise was conceived as the great sacrifice ia ti&$toc& 
the light serving, lifce a sacrificial flame, for tfee gfcwy'WIwft'W&atta 
eartft, and, at the same time, for his own gkay. Jffiaace lastly 1fc6 
ooemogQiiic ideas by which the <J*Uy saxaiBce % is conceiva* *u *h. 
sacrifice of creation and as the glory of the creator. 

e.^Qi, i. p. 339. 


should rather say, a decipherment of it has been 
attempted by several scholars, more particularly by 
Professor Spiegel and Professor Haug* It has also 
been referred to by Bunsen in his 'God in History' 
(fol. i. p. 277, of Misfl winkworth's translation), 
and'l may quote from him yhat will erve as a 
living, though imaginary, background for this striking 

'Leffus picture to ourselves, 1 he writes, 'one of the 
holy hills dedicated to tlje worship of fire, in the 
neighbourhood of the primeval city of marvels in 
Central Asia, Bactra "the glorious," now called 
Balkh, "the mother of cities." From this height 
we 1 look down in imagination over the elevated 
plateau, which lies nearly 3000 feet above the level 
of the sea, sloping downwards toward the North and 
ending in a sandy desert, which does not even* allow 
the stream Bactrus to reach the neighbouring Oxus. 
On the southern horizon, the last spurs of the 
Hindukush, or, as the historian of Alexander terms 
it, the Indian Caucasus, rear their lofty peaks 5000 
feet high. Out of those hills, the Paropamisus or 
Hindukush, springs the chief river of the country, 
the Bactrus or Dehas, which near the city divides 
into hundreds of Sanals, making tlffi face of the 
country one blooming garden of richest fruits. To 
this point converge the caravans, which travel across 
the mountains to the land of marvels, or bring 
treasures from thence ..... Thither, on occasion of 
the peaceful sacrifice by fire, from whose ascending 
flame auguries were to be drawn, Zarathustra had 
convened the nobles of the land, that he might per- 

f Essays on the Sacred Language of the Parsees/ i86a, p. 141. 


form *& great public religious act. Arrived there, 
at the head of his disciples, the seers and preachers, 
lie summons the princes to draw nigh, and to *choose 
between faith and superstition.' 

I give the translation o the hymn, partly after 
Haug (18^8), partly after Spiegel (1^59), and I*have 
likewise availed myself of some important emenda- 
tions proppsed by Dr. Eubschm^nn 1 . Yet, I must 
confess that, in numerous passages, my translation is 
purely tentative, and all I can answer for is the 
general tenour of the hymn. 

1. 'Now I shall proclaim to all who have come to 
listen, the praises of thee, the all-wise Lord, and the 
hymns of Vohumano (the good spirit). Wise Asjia! 
I ask that (thy) grace may appear in the lights of 

2. Hear with your ears what is best, perceive with 
your mind what is pure, so that every man may for 
himself choose his tenets. Before the great doom, may 
the wise be on our side ! 

3. 'Those old Spirits who are twins, each with his 
own work, made known 2 what is good and what is 
evil in thoughts, words, and deeds. Those who are 
good, distinguished between the two, not those who 
are evil-doers. 

4. 'When these two Spirits came together, they 
made 'first life and death, so that there should be 
at last the most wretched life for the bad, but for the 
good blessedness. 

1 ' "Em ZoroastrischeB Ijed, mat IttLckmcht atrf die Tradition fibe/seteb 
tmd erklart ' von Dr. H. HubBchmann : Miinchen, 18^2. 

9 Hang does not admit the causative meaning of aervfttem, bat 
takes it in the sense of audiwrunt or auditi sunt, i.e. they were known, 
they existed. 


5. *0f these two Spirits the evil one chose the 
worst n deeds ; the kind Spirit, he whose garment is 
the immovable sky, chose what is right; and tyhey 
also who faithfully pleaje Ahuramazda by good 

6. 'Those who worshipped the Devas* and were 
deceived, did not rightly distinguish between the 
twq; those who hwi chosen the worst Spirit came 
to hola counsel together, and ran to Aeshma in order 
to afflict the life of man. 

7. 'And to him (the good) came might, and with 
wisdom virtue; and the everlasting Armaiti -herself 

" made his body vigorous. It fell to thee to be rich by 
he? gifts. 

8. e But when the punishment of their crimes will 
come, and, oh Mazda, thy power will^be known as 
the reward of piety for those who delivered *{Druj) 
falsehood into the hand of truth (Asha), 

9. Let us then be of those who further this world ; 
oh Ahuramazda, oh bliss-conferring Ashal Let our 
mind be there where wisdom abides. 

TO. 'Then indeed there will be the fall of the per- 
nicious Druj, but in the beautiful abode of Vohumano, 
of Mazda and of Asha, will be gathered for ever those 
who dwell in good report, 

n. 'Oh men, if you cling to these commandments 
which Mazda has given, . , . which are a tornfent to 
the wicked, and a blessing to the righteous, then 
there wiU be victory through them.' 

The next three verses are taken from the forty- 
thinl chapter of the Ya9na 1 . 

V rifr. 3, ed. Brockhaus, p. I3 o; Spiegel, 'Yaai<p, 146; 
Hang, 'Essays/ p. 150. * 


'I ask thee, tell me the truth, Ahural Who 
was from the beginning the father of the pure jrorld? 
Who has macTe a path for the sun and for the staarsl 
Who (but thou) makes tia moon to increase and to 
decrease? That, Mazda, tod other things, I. wish 
to know. 

'I ask thee, tell me the truth, O Ahura! Who 
holds the*earth and the doucfe that they do not 
fall? Who holds the sea and the trees? Wtto has 
given swiftness to the mnd and the clouds? Who 
is the creator of the good spirits? 

* I ask thee, tell me the truth, Ahura! Whfi has 
made the kindly light and the darkness, who has 
made the kindly sleep and the awaking? Who has 
made the mornings, the noons, and the nights, they 
who remind the wise of his duty 2 ' 

Whatever the difficulties may be, and they are no 
doubt most formidable, that prevent us from de- 
ciphering aright the words of the Zendavesta, so 
much is clear, that in the Bible of Zoroaster every 
man is called upon to take his part in the great 
battle between Good and Evil which is always going 
on s and is assured that in the end good will prevail. 

What shall^I quote from Buddha? for we have 
so much left*of his sayings ancl his parables that 
it is indeed difficult to choose. In a collection of 
his sayings, written in Pali of which I have lately 
published a translation 1 we read: 

i. 'All that we are is the result of whAfc we Jwra 
thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is macte up 

1 The Dhaminaj>%<3% a Collection of Verges, bea$g one of ike canonical 
books of the Buddhists, translated from P4U by F. M*i Mtiller, In 
'Sacred Books of t&e East,' veL z. 1881. 


of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an 
evil ijiought, pain follows him as the wheel follows 
the foot of the ox that draws the cart. ' 

49. c As the bee collects toney and departs without 
ifijusing the flower, or its colour, or scent, so let a sage 
dwell on earth. * 

62. '"These sons belong to me, and this wealth 
bel^Dgs to me," with such thoughts a fool is tor- 
mented. He himself does not belong to himself, how 
much less sons and wealth I 

131, 122. 'Let no naan think lightly of evil, saying 
in hlfe heart, It will not come nigh unto me. Let no 
man think lightly of good, saying in his heart, It will 
not benefit me. Even by the falling of water-drops 
a water-pot is filled. 

173. 'He whose evil deeds are covered by good 
deeds, brightens up this world like the moon* when 
she rises from behind the clouds. 

223. 'Let a man overcome anger by love, evil by 
good, the greedy by liberality, the liar by truth 1 . 

252. 'The fault of others is easily perceived, but 
that of oneself is difficult to perceive ; a man winnows 
his ieighbour's faults like chaff, but his own fault he 
bides, as a cheat hides the bad die from the player 2 . 

264. 'Not by tonsure does an undisciplined man 
who speaks falsehood become a saint : can a man be 
a saint *who is stiU held captive by desires and 
greediness 1 

394. 'What is the use of platted hair, fool 1 ? 

1 See Rom. rii. ai . 'Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with 
good, 1 

* See Matt vii. 3. 'And why beholdest thon the mote that is in thy 
brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye ? ' . 


what of the raiment of goat-skins 1 } Within thee 
there is ravening, but the outside thou makest 
clean 1 .' 

In no religion are we^so constantly reminded of 
our own as in Buddhism, and yet in no religiop. l&s 
man beendrawn aw#y so far fronntruth as in the 
religion of Buddha. Buddhism and Christianity are 
indeed thetwo opposite poles wildi regard to the most 
essential points of religion: Buddhism igno&ag all 
feeling of dependence on & higher power 9 and there- 
fore denying the very existence of a supreme Deity; 
Christianity resting entirely on a belief in God afc the 
Father, in the Son of Man as the Son of God, and 
making all men children of God by faith in His Eton. 
Yet between the language of Buddha and his dis- 
ciples and thg language of Christ and His apostles 
there ^are strange coincidences. Even some of the 
Buddhist legends and parables sound as if taken 
from the New Testament, though we know that many 
of them existed before the beginning of the Christian 

Thus we read of Ananda,the disciple of Buddha, who, 
after a long walk in the country, meets with Matangt, 
a woman of the low caste of the K&ndt&&$ } near a 
well, and ask? her for some water. She tells him 
what she is, and that she must not come near him. 
But he replies, * My sister, I ask not for thy caste or 
thy family, I ask only for a draught of water/ She 
afterwards becomes herself a disciple of Buddto*: 

* See Lnke xi. 39 'Now do ye Pharisees make dean the outside of 
the cup and the platter; but your inward part fr full of ravening and 

* Burnouf, f Introduction fe rHiatoire du Buddhigme,' p. 305. 


Sometimes the same doctrine which in the New 
Testament occurs in the simple form of a command- 
ment, is inculcated by the Buddhists in the form of a 

A*Buddhist priest, we read 1 , was preaching to the 
multitudes thaf had gathered round hiin. In the 
crowd there was a king whose heart was full of 
sorrtre^ because he Bad no son to perpetuate his race. 
While he was listening, the preacher said: 

5 To give away our riches is considered the most 
difficult virtue in the Vorld ; he who gives away his 
riches is like a man who gives away his life : for our 
very life seems to cling to our riches. But Buddha, 
when his mind was moved by pity, gave his life, like 
grass, for the sake of others ; why should we think of 
miserable riches! By this exalted virtue, Buddha, 
when he was freed from all desires, and had obtained 
divine knowledge, attained unto Buddhahood. There- 
fore let a wise man, after he has turned away his 
desires from all pleasures, do good to all beings, even 
unto sacrificing his own life, that thus he may attain 
to trjie knowledge. 

c Listen to me: There was formerly a prince, free 
from all worldly dqires. Though he yas young and 
handsome, yet he left his palace, and embraced the 
Hfe of a, travelling ascetic. This aseetic coming one 
day to the house of a merchant, was seen by his young 
wife, and she, touched by the loveliness of his eyes, 
exclaimed: "How was this hard mode of life em- 
braced by such a one as thou art? Blessed, indeed, is 
that woman on whom thou lookest with thy lovely 

i. 38, i wj. 


When he heard this, the ascetic plucked out one 
eye, placed it into his hand, and said : t( Mothgr, look 
at this I Take* this hideous ball of flesh, if you like it. 
The other eye is like untft this ; tell me, what is there 
lovely in them?"' 

The prd&cher continued in the same strain, quoting 
other parables to the same purpose, and finished by 
inculcating the lesson that the tme sage should neither 
care for riches, nor for his life, and that he shSuld not 
cling to his wife and chjj.dren, for they are like the 
grass that is cast away. 

It is impossible to read such parables withoutHbeing 
reminded of verses of the Bible, such as (Matt. v. 29) : 
' And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and -cast 
it from thee l ;' and again (Matt. six. 39) : * Every one 
that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or 
father, or mother, or wife, or children ;' and again 
(Luke xii. 38): 'The grass which is to-day in the field, 
and to-morrow is cast into the oven/ 

In the same collection, the Ocean of the rivers of 
stories, by Somadeva (vi. 37), we read of a merchant 
who had embraced the religion of Sugata, and showed 
great respect to the Buddhist monks. His yourijj son, 
however, despised his father, and called him a sinner. 

1 Why do you abuse me?' said^bhe father. 

The son replied ; ' You have abandoned the law of 
the Vedas, and followed a new law which is no law, 
You have forsaken the Br&hmans, and 
fitonuwas. What is the use of the 

1 In the Dialog Greatitranm, p. I> 4^ it ffl toM of DenworiWiha* 
hapqlled out bis eyes, (i) because they prevented 5hJm fcoto mediation, 
(2) because be satt &e <frio&&l 50ttriBli, ^tHSGatme he ooold not took on 


which is followed only by men of low birth, who want 
to find a refuge in the monasteries, who are happy 
when they have thrown away their foin cloth, and 
shaved off every hair on their head; who eat what- 
ever r they please, and perform neither ablutions nor 
penances 1 ' 

The father replied: * There are different forms of 
religion : one looks to another world, the other is in- 
tended for the masses. But surely true Brahmanism 
also consists in avoiding of passion, in truthfulness, 
kindness towards all Hbeings, and in not recklessly 
breaEing the rules of caste. Therefore you should not 
always abuse my religion which grants protection to 
all "beings., For surely there is no doubt that to be 
kind cannot be unlawful, and I know no other kind- 
ness but to give protection to all living beings. There- 
fore if I am too much attached to my religion whose 
object is love, and whose end is deliverance, what sin 
is there in me, child? 1 

However, as the son did not desist from his abuse, 
his father took him before the king, and the king 
ordered him to be executed. He granted him two 
montRs to prepare for de^h, At the end of the two 
months the son wa^ brought before the king again, 
and when the king saw that he had grown thin and 
pale, he asked for the reason. The culprit repliejL that 
seeing death approach nearer and nearer every day, he 
could not foiTyk of eating. Then the Mng told him, 
that he threatened to have him executed in order that 
he Blight know the anguish that every creature feels 
at the approach of death, and that he might learn to 
respect a religion which enforces compassion for all 
beings. Having known the fear of death, he ought 


now to strive after spiritual freedom, and never again 
abuse his father's religion 1 . 

The son waif moved, and asked the king how he 
could obtain spiritual freedom. The king hearing that 
there was a fair in the towns ordered the young.msfii 
to take a TOssel brimijil of oil, and to arry it through 
the streets of the town without spilling a drop. Two 
executionens with drawn swords Were to walk beltfnd 
him, and at the first drop being spilled, they -frere to 
cut off his head. When tfre young man, after having 
walked through all the streets f the city, returned to 
the king without having spilled one drop, the king 
said: 'Did you to-day, while walking through the 
streets, see anybody ? * 

The young man replied : e My thoughts were fixed 
on the vessel, and I saw and heard nothing else. 9 

Then the king said : ' Let thy thoughts be fixed in 
the same way on the Highest I He who is collected, 
and has ceased to care for outward life, will see the 
truth, and having seen the truth, will not be caught 
again by the net of works. Thus I have taught you 
in few words the way that leads to spiritual freedom/ 

According to Buddha, the motive of all our actions 
should be pity, or what we should call love for our 
neighbour, and* the same sentiment is inculcated again 
and again in the sacred poetry of the Brahmans. Thus 
we reacl in the Mah&bharata, Udyoga-parva'cap. 38, 
4 Thou shalt not do to others what thou likest not thy- 
self. This is the law in short, everything else proceeds 
from passion/ 

M^Mbharata, Amwasana-parva, cap. 145 : 

'Not to hurt anybody by word, thought* or deed, 
1 0f. 


and to be benevolent and charitable. This is the 
eterngl law of the good.' 

Mah&bh&rata, S&nti-parva, cap. i5o* 

'Forgiveness and patience, kindness and equable- 
tffess, truthfulness and uprightness, restraint of the 
senses and energy, gentleness and modesiy and gra- 
vity, generosity and calmness, contentment, kindliness 
of ^peech, and absence of hatred and malice these 
together make up self-control/ 

MaMhhftrata, $Snti-parva, cap. no: 

'Those who are dreaded by none and who them- 
selves dread no one, who regard all mankind like 
themselves, such men surmount all difficulties.' 

MaMbharata, Anus&sana-parva, cap. 144 : 

'Those who always treat friends and foes witfe an 
equal heart, being friends to all, such men shall go to 
heaven 1 .' 

And as in Buddhism and Brahmanism, so again in 
the writings of Confucius, we find what we value most 
in our own reHgion. I shall quote but one saying of 
the Chinese sage 3 : 

'What you do not like when done to yourself, do 
notTlo that to others/ 

One passage only from the founder of the second 
religion in China, from Lao-tse (cap. 2) a : 

'There is an infinite Being 4 , which existed before 
heaven and earth. 

'the Pandit,' December, 

*Dr. Legge's ' Life and Teachings of Confucius,' p 47. 

8 ( Le Lira de la Voie et de la Vertu, compos* dans le YI tiede 
avant 1'ere chre'tienne, pax Lao-tseu,' iraduit par Stanislas Julien, 
Paris, 1842, p. 91. 

4 Stan. Julien traDBlatee, f H eat UB ^tre oonfus/ and lie explains 


* How calm it is 1 how free 1 

e It lives alone, it changes not. 

' It moves evelywhere, but it never suffers. 

'We may look on it as te Mother of the Universe. 

C I, I know not its nama 

'In ordei*to give it a title, I call it Tao (the Way). 

* When I try to give it a name, I call it Great. 
'After calling it Great, I call ii Fugitive. 
'After calling it Fugitive, I call it Distant. 

'After calling it Distant,! say it comes back to me/ 
Need I say that Greek and Bpman writers abound 
in the most exalted sentiments on religion and moral- 
ity, in spite of their mythology and in spite of their 
idolatry 3 When Plato says that men ought to strive 
after likeness with God, do you think that he thought 
of Jupiter, or Mars, or Mercury? When another poet 
exclaimed that the conscience is a god for all men, 
was he so very far from a knowledge of the true 

On African ground the hieroglyphic and hieratic 
texts of the ancient Egyptians show the same 
strange mixture of sublime and childish, nay worse 
than childish, thoughts to which all students of *pri~ 
mitive religion have become accustomed, nay from 
which they mtfst learn to draw Some of their most 
important lessons. It is easy to appreciate what is 
simple, "and true, and beautiful in the Sacred Books 
of fiie East, but those who are satisfied with 'such 
gems, itre like botanists who should care for 

confus according to the Chinese commentaries by * ce qu'fl eat impossible 
de distingue? olairemeni. Si par hazard on rn'mtewoge sur cef 6tre (le 
Tao), ]e re*pondif : II n'a ni commenoement, si fin,' etc. See, however, 
Dr. J. Legge, 'The Religions of CMj%' 1880, p. 313. 


etad lilies only, and in whose eyes the thorns and 
brier* are mere weeds and rubbish. This is not the 
true spirit in which the natural development either 
of the flowers of the earth or of the products of the 
mind can be studied, and it is surprising to see how 
long it takes before the students of antimfpology will 
learn that one simple lesson. 

in a papyrus at Ttfrin 1 , the following "wf>rds are put 
into tffe mouth of 'the almighty God, tie self-existent, 
who made heaven and easth, the waters, the breaths 
of life, fire, the gods* men, animals, cattle, reptiles, 
bircfej fishes, kings, men and gods.' ... *I am the 
maker of heaven and of the earth, I raise its moun- 
tains and the creatures which are upon it; I make the 
waters, and the Mehura comes into being. ... I am 
the maker of heaven, and of the mysteries of the two- 
fold horizon. It is I who have given to all the gods 
the soul which is within them. When I open my 
eyes, there is light ; when I close them, there is dark- 
ness, . , . I make the hours, and the hours come into 
existence. I am Chepera in the morning, IU at noon, 
Tmu in the evening.' 

Jjid again : ( Kail to thee, Ptah-tanu, great god 
who concealeth his form, . . . thou art watching when 
at rest; the father of all fathers and' uf all gods. . . . 
Watcher, who traversest the endless ages of eternity. 
The heaven was yet uncreated, uncreated was the 
earth" the water flowed not; thou hast put together 
the earth, thou hast united thy limbs, thou hast reck- 
oned thy members; what thou hast found apart, thou 
hast put into its place ; O God, architect of the world, 
thou art without a father, begotten by thine own 
1 Le Page Eenouf, ' Hibbert Lectures,' p. aai. 


blessing; thou art without a mother, being born 
through repetition of thyself. Thou drivest aw&y the 
darkness by the beams of thine eyes. Thou ascendeat 
into the zenith of heaven, Ind thou comest down eve/) 
as thou hast risen. When tfiou art a dweller in* the 
infernal world, thy knees are above* the earth, and 
thine head is in the upper sky. Thou sustainest the 
substances vvhich thou hast made. It is by thige <?wn 
strength that thou mo vest; thou art raised up by the 
might of thine own arms. .". . The roaring of thy voice 
is in the cloud; thy breath is So. the mountain-^ops ; 
the waters of the inundation cover the lofty trees of 
every region. . . . Heaven and earth obey the com- 
mands which thou hast given; they travel by the 
road which thou hast laid down for them, they trans- 
gress not the -path which thou hast prescribed to 
them, and which thou hast opened to them. . . . Thou 
restest, and it is night ; when thine eyes shine forth, 
we are illuminated. ... let us give glory to the God 
who hath raised the sky, and who causeth his disk to 
float over the bosom of Nut, who hath made the gods 
and men and all their generations, who hath madfc all 
land and countries And the great sea, in his name of 
"Let-the-earth-te." . . . The babe which is brought forth 
daily, the ancient one who traverses every path, the 
height Tphich cannot be attained/ 

The following are extracts from a hymn addressed 
to Amon, the great divinity of Thebes, preferrod m 
the Museum at Bulak : 

1 Hail to thee, Amon R&, Lord of -the thrones of &e 
earth the ancient of heaven, the oldest of the earth, 
Lord of all existences, the support of things; the sup- 
port of all things. The One in his works, single 

N % 


among the gods ; the beautiful bull of the cycle of the 
gods,*chief of all the gods ; Lord of Jjruth, father of 
ihe gods ; maker of men, creator of beasts, maker of 
l^rbs, feeder of cattle, goc power begotten of Ptah 
, . ."to whom the gods give honour . . . Most glorious 
one, Lord of teAor, chief maker* of the ea&h after his 
image, how great are his thoughts above every god ! 
Hsfil i$ thee, B&, Lorcl of law, whose shrine is hidden, 
Lord of the gods ; Chepra in his boat, at whose com- 
mand the gods were madfc. Atmu, maker of men, 
. . , m giving them life * . . . listening to the poor who 
is in distress, gentle of heart when one cries to him 
. v . Lord of wisdom, whose precepts are wise, at 
whose pleasure the Nile overflows: Lord of mercy, 
most loving, at whose coming men live: opener of 
every eye, proceeding from the firmament, causer of 
pleasure and light; at whose goodness the gods re- 
joice ; their hearts revived when they see him. B, 
adored in Thebes, high crowned in the house of the 
obelisk (EeUopolis), sovereign of life, health, and 
strength, sovereign Lord of all the gods ; who art 
visile in the midst of the horizon, ruler of the past 
generations and the nether woild; whose name is 
hidden from his creatures . . . Hail io thee the one, 
alone with many hands, lying awake while all men 
sleep, tip seek out the good of his creatures, Amon, 
sustainer of all things. Tmu and Horus of the 
horizon pay homage to thee in jell their words. Sa- 
lutation to thee, because thou abidest in us, adoration 
tcfthee because thou hast created us/ 

Are there many prayers uttered by kings like this 
of King Barneses II? 

Who then art thou, my father Amonl Doth a 


father forget his son 1 Surely a wretched lot awaiteth 
him who opposeth thy will ; but blessed is hg who 
knoweth thee, for thy deeds proceed from a heart full 
of love. I call upon thee s f) my father Amon! behold 
me in the midst of many peoples, unknown to me.; &l 
nations ar8 united against me, and I am alone ; no 
other is with me. My many soldiers have abandoned 
me, none of my horsemen hath? looked towards me ; 
and when I called them, none hath listened*.*) my 
voice. But I believe thatAnion is worth more to me 
than a million of soldiers, than a hundred thousand 
horsemen, and ten thousands of brothers and %ons, 
even were they all gathered together. The work of 
many men is nought ; Amon will prevail over them.' 

The following are a few passages translated from 
the book of ftahhotep, which has been called e ihe 
most tacient book of the world/ and would indeed 
have a right to that title if, as we are told, the Paris 
MS. containing it was written centuries before Moses 
was born, while the author lived during the reign of 
King Assa Tatkara of the fifth dynasty 1 : 

s lf thou art a wise man, bring up thy son in the 
love of God.' 

'God loveth the obedient and hateth the dis- 

' A good son is spoken of as the gift of God/ 

In the Maxims of Ani we read : 

* The sanctuary of God abhors ' (noisy manJ&efca- 
tionsl). Pray humbly with a loving heart 
words of which are uttered in secret. He will 
tect thee in thine affairs ; He will listen to thy words. 
He will accept thine offerings/ 

1 Le Page Eenouf, 'Hibbert I^oturefi/ p. 76. 


' The God of the world is in the light above the 
firmament. His emblems are upon earth ; it is to 
them, that worship is rendered daily.' 

In conclusion, I add a few sayings from funeral 
nfonuments, put into thep mouth of the departed 3 : 

'Not a little ihild did I injiye. Not a*widow did 
I oppress. Not a herdsman did I ill-treat. There 
wa4 no beggar in my days ; no one stafved in my 
time. Sjid when the years of famine came, I ploughed 
all the lands of the province to its northern and 
southern boundaries, feeding its inhabitants and pro- 
viding their food. There was no starving person in 
it, and I made the widow as though she possessed a 

In another inscription the departed says : 

* Doing that which is right, and hating that which 
is wrong, I was bread to the hungry, water to the 
thirsty, clothing to the naked, a refuge to him that 
was in want ; that which I did to him, the great God 
hath done to me ! ' 

It is difficult to stop quoting. With every year 
new treasures are brought to light from the ancient 
literature of Egypt, and I doubt net that in time, par- 
ticularly if the hieroglyphic documents continue to be 
deciphered in a truly scholarlike spirit,*Egypt will be- 
come one of the richest mines to the student of religion. 

But wfc must look now at sqme at least of the black 
inhabitants of Africa, I mean those whose language and 
religion have been carefully studied and described to 
us .by trustworthy men, such as Bishop Oolenso, 
Bishop Callaway, Dr. Bleek, Dr. Theophilus Hahn; 
more partidilarly the Bdntu tribes, occupying the 
* Le Page Beaouf, 'Bibbert Lectures,* p. 72. 


Eastern coast from beyond the Equator to the Gape. 
What darkness there is at present ^among these races 
we have learnt'from the history of the last wars, but 
we should not forget howjiighly some of these races, 
particularly the Zulus, are. spoken of by English 
missionaries. If the number of conve/ts among them 
is as yet small, perhaps it is well that it should be so. 
Bishop Callaway tells us lad, the first he 
baptized in Natal, told him that his mother, T*O wit- 
nessed the battle between the English troops under 
Cathcart and the Basutos", an^ observed the terrible 
effect of our artillery, was so much struck witk the 
power displayed, that she concluded that they who 
could shake the very earth, could not be mistaken in 
anything, and advised her son to accept their religion. 
It is only the^ old story, that truth is on the side of 
the big battalions. But the same Bishop is evidently 
gaining influence by better means, and chiefly by 
schools which, as he truly says, 'must be the seed-bed 
of the Church, because Christianity flourishes with 
more vigour in the cultivated than in the uncultivated 
mind/ One of the Zulus, whose confidence Dr. Calla- 
way had gained, sajid to him l : 

'We did not hear first from the white men nuuuu 
the King wh5 is above. In sufhmer-time, when it 
thunders, we say, "The King is playing." And if 
there is one who is afraid, the elder people say to him, 
" It is nothing but fear.' What thing belonging^ tba 
King have you eaten 1 ? " ' 

Another very old man stated (p. 0)5 * 
were children, it was said ; " The King is i 

1 Br, OaJteway, 'tfaMBnkulu/p, 79* 


they used to point to the King on high ; we did not 
hear Jhis name ; we heard only that the King is on 
high. We heard it said that the creator of the world 
(Umdabuko) is the King wfeich is above" ' (p. 60). 

A, very old woman When examined by one of her 
own countrymea, said (p. 53)- When we rifreak of the 
origin of corn, asking, "Whence came this?" the old 
people said, "It came*from the creator whC created all 
things^ but we do not know him." When we asked 
continually, " Where is the*creator? for our chiefs we 
see," the old men defied, saying, " And those chiefs, 
too, Whom we see, they were created by the creator." 
And when we asked, "Where is he? for he is not 
visible at all; where is he then?" we heard our fathers 
pointing towards heaven, and saying, * The Creator of 
all things is in heaven. And there is a nation of 
people there, too . . . ." It used to be said constantly, 
" He is the King of kings." Also when we heard it 
said that the heaven had eaten the cattle at such a 
village (i.e. when the lightning had struck them), we 
said, "The King has taken the cattle from such a 
village." And when it thundered the people took 
courage by saying, " The "K^g is playing/' ' 

Again, another very old man, belonging to the 
Amantanja tribe, who showed four wounds, and whose 
people had been scattered by the armies of Utshaka, 
said (p. J6) : 'The old faith of our forefathers was 
this ; they said, " There is Unkulunkulu, who is a man, 
who is of the earth." And they used to say, " There 
is a king in heaven." When it hailed, and thundered, 
they said, " The king is arming ; he will cause it to 
hail; put things"in order." ., As to the source of being 
I know that only which is in heaven (p. 59). Tha 


ancient men said, " The source of being (Umdabuko) 
is above, which gives life to men." .... It was *aid at 
first, the rain came from the King, and that the sun 
camQ from him, and themoon which gives a white 
light during the night, that *nen may go and npt Ibe 

'If lightning struck cattle, the people were not dis- 
tressed. It used to be said (jft 60): "The Bang. has 
slaughtered for himself among his own food? Is it 
yours 1 Is it not the King's ? He is hungry ; he killa 
for himself." If a village is stwick by lightning, and a 
cow is killed, it is said, "This village will be*pros- 
perous." If a man is struck and dies, it is said, " The 
King has found fault with him."' 

Another name of the Creator is Itongo, the Spirit, 
and this is fte account given by a native (p. 94) : 
' Whdh he says Itongo, he is not speaking of a man 
who has died and risen again ; he is speaking of the 
Up-bearer of the earth, which supports men and cattle. 
The Up-bearer is the earth by which we live; and 
there is the Up-bearer of the earth by which we live, 
and without which we could not be, and by which 
we are.' 

Thus we find among a people who were said to be 
without any religious life, without any idea of a Divine 
power, that some of the most essential elements of 
religion are fully developed, a belief in an* invisible 
God, the Creator of all things, residing in heaven, 
sending rain and hail and thunder, punishing tho 
wicked, and claiming his sacrifice from among the 
cattle on a thousand hills. This shows how careful- 
we should be before we accept purely negative evi- 
dence on the religion or the absence of all religion 


among savage tribes. Suppose an educated native of 
India or China were to appear suddenly in the Black 
country, and address some questions in p scarcely intel- 
ligible English 1 to a dust-begrimed coal-heaver, and 
ask him what his ancestors had told him about the 
source of being -*- what account ^jcould he give to his 
countrymen of the state of religious faith in England, 
if all his information had been gathered from the 
answer? which he would be likely to receive from 
such witnesses! Perhaps fte would never hear the 
name of God except in a, * God bless you ! ' which people 
uttered in England as well as in Germany and many 
other countries, when any one present sneezed. It was 
in such an exclamation that Dr. Callaway first dis- 
covered one of the names of the deity among the Zulus. 
Asking an old man who lived at the mission station, 
whether the word Utik#o had come into use after the 
arrival of the missionaries, he received the answer 
(p. 64) : * No ; the word TJtik#o is not a word we learnt 
from the English; it is an old word of our own. It 
used to be always said when a man sneezes, " May 
Utikajo ever regard me with favour." ' This Utikajo 
was (Supposed to have been conceal^! by Unkulunkulu 
(p. 67), and to be seen by no one. Men saw Unkulun- 
kulu, and said that*he was the creator* of all things 
(Umveli^angi) ; they said this, because they did not 
see Him who madeTJnkulunkulu ; they therefore said 
that Tfokulunkulu was God. 
After these crude fragments picked up among the 

1 P. 67. ' On the arrival of the English in this land of ours, the 
first who came was a missionary named Uyegana. On his arrival he 
taught the people, but they did not understand what he said .... and 
although he did not understand the people's language, he jabbered 
constantly to the people, and they could not understand what he said.' 


uncultured races of Africa, who have not yet arrived at 
any positive form of faith, let us now, in conclusion, 
look at a few specimens of religious thought, emanat- 
ing from those who no hng&r hold to any positive 
form of faith. I take as theif representative Faiai, tfie 
"brother of ^.bulfazl, one of that smallcompany at the 
Court of the Emperor Akbar, who, after a comparative 
study of thfc religions of the world, had renounced* the 
religion of Mohammad, and for whom, as we shall see 1 , 
the orthodox Bad^oni could not invent invective strong 
enough to express his horror. Faizi was one of those 
men whom their contemporaries call heretics and*blas- 
phemers, but whom posterity often calls saints and 
martyrs, the salt of the earth, the light of the world ; a 
man of real devotion, real love for his fellow-creatures, 
real faith in God, the Unknown God, whom we ignor- 
antly Vorship, whom no human thought and no human 
language can declare, and whose altar, the same that 
St. Paul saw at Athens will remain standing for ever 
in the hearts of all true believers. 

* Take Faizi's Df wan to bear witness to the wonder- 
ful speeches of a free-thinker who belongs to a thousand 

C I have be&ome dust, but from the odour of my 
grave, people shall know that man rises from such 

'They may know Faizi's 2 end from the beginning: 
wiiihout an equal he goes from the world, aad -wl&ptife 
an equal he rises. 

* In. the assembly of the day of resTjirection, when 
past things shall be forgiven, the gins of the Kabbah 

i a*4 p. a i s, a Faizi means also the heart. 


will be forgiven for the sake of the dust of Christian 
churches 1 . 

1 Thou who existest from eternity and abidest for 
ever, sight cannot bear Thy light, praise cannot ex- 
press. Thy perfection ; 

f Thy light melts the understanding, and*Thy glory 
baffles wisdom ; to think of Thee destroys reason. Thy 
essence confounds thdught. 

'Thy" holiness pronounces that the blood-drops of 
human meditation are shed, in vain in search of Thy 
knowledge : human understanding is but an atom of 

* Thy jealousy, the guard of Thy door, stuns human 
thought by a blow in the face, and gives human 
ignorance a slap on the nape of the neck. 

'Science is like blinding sand of the* desert on the 
road to Thy perfection. The town of literature is a 
mere hamlet compared with the world of Thy know- 
ledge. ' 

'My foot has no power to travel on this path which 
misleads sages ; I have no power to bear the odour of 
the wine, it confounds my mind. 

f Man's so-called foresight and guiding reason wander 
about bewildered in the city of Thy glojy. 

* Human knowledge and thought combined can only 
spell the first letter of the alphabet "of Thy love. 

'Mere beginners and such as are far advanced in 
knowledge are both eager for union with Thee; but 

1 The sins of Islam are as worthless as the dust of Christianity. On 
{he day of resurrection, both Muhammadanfl and Christiana -will see the 
vanity of their religious doctrines Men fight about religion on earth ; 
in heaven they shall find out that there is only one true religion, the 
worship of God's spirit. 


the beginners are tattlers, and those that are advanced 
are triflers. 

'Each brain 1 is full of thought of grasping Thee; 
the brow of Plato even bjtrned with the fever-heat of 
this hopeless thought. 

'How shall a thoughtless man Ijke me succeed, 
when Thy jealousy strikes a dagger into the liver of 
saints 1 ? 

' that Thy grace would cleanse my brauT; for if 
not, my restlessness will end in madness. 

'To bow down the head upon the dust of Thy 
threshold and then to look up, is neither rigfet in 
faith, nor permitted by truth.' 

* man, tfcou coin bearing the double stamp of 
body and spirit, I do not know what thy nature is ; 
for thou art higher than heaven and lower than 

' Thy frame contains the image of the heavenly and 
the lower regions ; be either heavenly or earthly, thou 
art at liberty to choose. 

'Do not act against thy reason, for it is a trust- 
worthy counsellor; put not thy heart on illusions, for 
the heart is allying fool. 

* If thou wishest to understand the secret meaning 
of theVords, "to prefer the welfare of othdts to thy 
own," treat thyself with poison, and others with 

* Accept misfortune with a joyful look, if thou art 
in the service of Him whom people serve. 

* Plunged into the wisdom of Greece, my mind ros< 
again from the deep in the land of Ind ; be thou as i 


thou hadst fallen into this deep abyss (of my know- 
ledge,^ e. learn of me). 

'If people would withdraw the veil" from the face 
of my knowledge, they would find that what those 
wfto are far advanced in* knowledge call certainty, is 
with me the faintest dawn of thought. 

*If people would take the screen from the eye of 
my ^knowledge, they <would find that what is reve- 
lation (ecstatic knowledge) for the wise, is but drunken 
madness for me. n 

If I were to bring forth what is in my mind, I 
wonder whether the spirit of the age could bear it. 

'My vessel does not require the wine of the friend- 
ship of time; my own blood is the basis of the wine 
of my enthusiasm/ 

I wish we could explore together in this spirit the 
ancient religions of mankind, for I feel convinced that 
the more we know of them, the more we shall see 
that there is not one which is entirely false; nay, 
that in one sense every religion was a true religion, 
being the only religion which was possible at the time, 
whicte was compatible with the language, the thoughts, 
and the sentiments of each generation, which was 
appropriate to the 8,ge of the world. *I know full 
well the objections that will be made to this. Was 
the worship of Moloch, it will be said, a true religion 
when they burnt their sons and their daughters in 
the fire to their gods ? Was the worship of Mylitta, 
or is the worship of K&H a true religion, when within 
the sanctuary of their temples they committed abo* 
minataons that must be nameless? Was the teaching 
of Buddha a true religion, when men were asked to 


believe that the highest reward of virtue and medi- 
tation consisted in a complete annihilation jpf the 

Such arguments may toll in party warfare, though 
even there they have provoked fearful retaliation. 
Can that*be a trae.reUgion, it ha* been answered, 
which consigned men of holy innocence to the flames, 
because they held that the Son was like unto, the 
Father, but not the same as the Father, or l>eeause 
they would not worship Jbhe Virgin and the Saints? 
Can that be a true religion which screened the same 
nameless crimes behind the sacred walls of nftnas- 
teries? Can that be a true religion which taught the 
eternity of punishment without any hope of pardon 
or salvation for the sinner, not penitent in proper 

Feeble who judge of religions in that spirit will 
never understand their real purport, will never reach 
their sacred springs. These are the excrescences, the 
inevitable excrescences of all religions. We might as 
well judge of the health of a people from its hospitals, 
or of its morality from its prisons. If we want to 
judge of a religion* we must try to study it as touch 
as possible in 1 the mind of its founder; and when thai* 
is impossible,*as it is but too offen, try to find it in 
the lonely chamber and the sick-room, rather than in 
the colleges of augurs and the councils of priests. 

If we do this, and if we bear in mind 
must accommodate itself to the intellaataal 
of those whom it is to influence, we shall fee surprised, 
to find much of true religion where we only ex- 
pected degrading superstition or an 'absurd worship 
of idols. 


The intention of religion, wherever we meet it, is 
alwayi holy. However imperfect, however childish a 
religion may be, it always places the human soul in 
the presence of God; and however imperfect and how- 
e^far ghildish the conception of God may be, it always 
represents the highest ideal of perfection <which the 
human soul, for the time being, can reach and grasp. 
Keljgion therefore places the human sou!4n the pre- 
sence o? its highest ideal, it lifts it above the level of 
ordinary goodness, and produces at least a yearning 
after a higher and better life a life in the light of 

The expression that is given to these early manifes- 
tations of religious sentiment is no doubt frequently 
childish : it may be irreverent or even repulsive. But 
has not every father to learn the lesson gf a charitable 
interpretation in watching the first stammerings of 
religion in his children? Why, then, should people 
find it so difficult to learn the same lesson in the 
ancient history of the world, and to judge in the same 
spirit the religious utterances of the childhood of the 
human, race? Who does not recollect the startling and 
seemingly irreverent questionings* of children about 
God, and who does not know how perfectly guiltless 
the child's mind is <K real irreverence? Such outbursts 
of infantine religion hardly bear repeating. I shall 
only mefltion one instance. I well recollect tne dis- 
may ^rhich was created by a child exclaiming, e Oh ! 
I wish there was at least one room in the house where 
I could play alone, and where God could not see me !' 
People who heard it were shocked ; but to my mind, 
I confess, this * childish exclamation sounded more 
trutbfiil and wonderful than even the Psalm of David, 


'Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither 
shall I flee from Thy presence V 

It is the same with the childish language of ancient 
religion. We say very calmly that God is omniscient 
and omnipresent. Heslod speaks of the sun, as ike 
eye of Zeug, that sees and perceives everything. *Ara- 
tus wrote, e Full of eus are all* the" streets, all the 
markets of^men ; full of Him js the sea and the har- 
bours .... and we are also His offspring/ 

A Vedic poet, though of more modern date than the 
one I quoted before, speaking of the same Varuna 
whom Vasishtfia invoked, says: *The great lord of 
these worlds sees as if he were near. If a man thinks 
he is walking by stealth, Ivhe gods know it all. If a 
man stands or walks or rides, if he goes to lie down 
or to get up, what two people sitting together whisper, 
King Yaruwa \nows it, he is there as a third. This 
earth, too, belongs to Varuna, the king, and this wide 
sky with its ends far apart. The two seas (the sky 
and the ocean) are Varufta's loins; he is aJso 3p$$aMd 
in this small drop of water. He who should ft&e far 
beyond the sky, even he would not be rid of Varuna, 
the king. His spies proceed from heaven towards 
this world; with thousand eyes they overlook this 
earth. King ^aruwa sees all thss, what is between 
heaven and earth, and what is beyond. He has 
counted the twinklings of our eyes. As <a player 
throws down the dice, he settles all things V 

I do not cteny that there is in this hymn B|i$fcp8t 
is childish, that it contains expressions W^tftiSf of 
the majesty of the Deity; but if I look at the lan- 
guage and the thoughts of the people who composed 

1 ' Chips from A German Woirfesfcop,' L 4*. ' Atlutfro-vedV iv. 16, 


these hymns more than three thousand years ago, I 
wonder rather at the happy and pure expression which 
they iJave given to these deep thoughts than at the 
occasional harshnesses which jar upon our ears, 

<These are the words <jf a Hindu convert, when he 
wentlbaek to India to preach the Gospel: 'Jtfow I am 
not going to India to injure the feelings of the people 
by saying, " Your Scriptyire is all nonsen^, anything 
outside *the Old and New Testament is good for no- 
thing." No, I tell you, I will appeal to the Hindu 
philosophers and moralists* and poets, at the same 
time Jbringing to them my light, and reasoning with 
them in the spirit of Christ, That will be my work. 
We. have sayings to this effect: "He who would be 
greatest shall be least." You cannot call this non- 
sense, for it is the saying of our Saviour, " Whosoever 
would be chief among you, let him be your sewant." 
The missionaries, kind, earnest, devoted as they are, 
do not know these things, and at once exclude every- 
thing bearing the name of Hindu. Go to Egypt, and 
you will find some pieces of stone, beautifully carved 
and ornamented, that seem to have been part of some 
&rge building, and by examining these, you can 
imagine how magnificent this structure must have 
'l^een. Go to India, %nd examine the cdmmon sayings 
0ft ike people, and you will be surprised to see what 
a splendid religion the Hindu religion must have 
been 1 / 

Much the same might be said of the religion of the 
Indians of North America also, however different the 
growth of their religious ideas has been from that of 

1 'Brief Account <$ Jognth. Chandra Gangooly, a Brahman of High. 
$a0te and a Convert to Oliriptianity,' London, 1860. 


their namesakes in the East. The early missionaries 
among the Red Indians were struck by nothing s* much 
as by their apparent pantheism, by their seeing the- 
presence of the Divine everywhere, even in what we^e> 
clearly the works of man. Th&s Roger Williams related 
'that wheif they talke^amongst themsalves of the Eng- 
lish ships and great buildings, of the plowing of their 
Fields, and^specially of Bookss and Letters, tjjieywiU 
end thus: Manittflwock, " they are Gods," Oummanitt&ay 
"you are a God." ' He sees in these idioms an expression^, 
( of the strong conviction natural! in the soule of m*D, , 
that God is filling all things, and places, and ty&k aL 
Excellencies dwell in God, and proceed from him, and 1 
that they only are blessed who have that Jehovah 
for their portion/ It may have been so when Roger 
Williams wrote, but a scholarlike study of the North 
American languages such as has lately been inaugu- 
rated by a few American savants, shows that, if it 
was so, the equivocal character of language had more 
to do with producing this peculiar American pan- 
theism than the independent evolution of thought, 
Manito, literally 'Manit,' plur. manMog (see TrumbuH 
'Transact. Am. Phi^ Assoc. 3 L p. 120), is no doubt the 
TyiJTfrTi- name (ox their Supreme Spirit. Lahontaine 
defined it long ago as a name given by the savages 
' to all that surpasses their understanding and proceeds 
from a cauae that they cannot trace* ('Voyages/ Engl 
ed. 1703, vol. ii 39). But this Manit is no* 
of ihe ky or the sun or any other 
nomenon gradually developed into a 
Dyaus or Zeus, and then generalised into a name of 
the Divine, like deva or <few- If we^may trust the 
best students of the American languages the name of 
o 2 


Manit began with an abstract concept. It was formed 
* by pifcfixing the indefinite or impersonal particle 3 m 
to the subjunctive participle (anit) of *a verb which 
signifies ** to surpass," w to be more than." Anue, which 
is an impersonal form of the same verb (in the indicat. 
present), was the* sign of the comparative dfegree, and 
translated by " more,* " rather." ' As the word Manit, 
however, besides being the name of the Highest God, 
continued to be used in ordinary language in the sense 
of excessive, extraordinary, wonderful, the missionaries 
hearing the Indians ai the apprehension of any ex- 
celleifey in men, women, birds, beasts, fish, etc., crying 
out Manitoo, took it in the sense of 'it is a God/ 
Possibly the two meanings of the word may have run 
together in the minds of the Indians also, and, if so, 
we should have here another instance otthe influence 
of language on thought, or, if you like, of petrified 
on living thought, though in this case due, not to 
polyonomy, but to homonymy. The result is the 
same, but the steps which led to the expression * this 
is Manit* are different from the steps that led from 
' dyaus,' sky, to our saying * this is divine.' 

Ajfbient language is a difficult instrument to handle, 
particularly for religious purposes. It is^impossible to 
express abstract ideas except by metaphor, and it is 
not too much to say that the whole dictionary of ancient 
religion b made up of metaphors. With us these 
metaphors are all forgotten. We speak of spirit without 
thinking of breath, of heaven without ih^TriTig of the 
sky, of pardon without thinking of a release, of reve- 
lation, without thinking of a veil. But in ancient 
language every" one of these words, nay, every word 
that does not refer to sensuous objects, is still in a 


chrysalis stage: half material and half spiritual, and 
rising and falling in its character according to the 
varying capacities of speakers and hearers. Here is a 
constant source of misunderstandings, many of whjph 
have maintained their place Tn the religion and in the 
mythology of the ancient world^ There are two dis- 
tinct tendencies to be observed in the growth of ancient 
religion. There is, on the on3 side, the struggle of the 
mind against the material character of language, a 
constant attempt to strip words of their coarse cover- 
ing, and fit them, by main fofce, for the purposes of 
abstract thought. But there is, on the other side, a 
constant relapse from the spiritual into the material, 
and, strange to say, a predilection for the material 
sense instead of the spiritual. This action and reaction 
has been goiag on in the language of religion from the 
earliest times, and it is at work even now. 

It seems at first a fatal element in religion that it 
cannot escape from this flux and reflux of huioan 
thought, which is repeated at least once in every 
generation between father and son, between mother 
and daughter ; but if we watch it more closely we 
shall find, I think,<that this flux and reflux constitutes 
the very life #f religion. 

Place yourselves in the position of those who first 
are saj.d to have worshipped the sky. We say that 
they worshipped the sky, or that the sky was their 
god; and in one sense this is true, but in a s$ra$,?iQr 
different from that which is usually atfcad*e<$ &*ta0k 
statements. If we use 'god* in the sense which it 
has now, then to say that the sky was their god is to 
say what is simply impossible. Such a word as God, 
in the sense in which we use it such a word even 


as deus and fc&, in Latin and Greek, or deva in San- 
skrit, *which could be used as a general predicate 
did not and could not exist at that early time in the 
history of thought and speech. If we want to under- 
stand ancient religion, we must first try to understand 
ancient language. 

Let us remember," then 9 that the first materials of 
language supply expressions for such Impressions 
only as are received through the senses. If, there- 
fore, there was a root meajtfng to burn, to be bright, 
to warm, such a root might supply a recognised name 
for tffe sun and for the sky. 

But let us now imagine, as well as we can, the 
process which went on in the human mind before the 
name of sky could be torn away from its material 
object and be used as the name of something totally 
different from the sky. There was in the h&rt of 
man, from the very first, a feeling of incompleteness, 
of weakness, of dependence, whatever we like to 
call it in our abstract language. We can explain it 
as little as we can explain why the newborn child 
feels the cravings of hunger and thirst. But it was 
so fr3m the first, and is so even cow. Man knows 
not whence he comes and whither he g<jes. He looks 
for a guide, for a friend; he wearies for some one on 
whom he can rest; he wants something like a father 
in heaven. In addition to all the impressions which 
he received from the outer world, there was in the 
heart of man a stronger impulse from within a 
sigh, a yearning, a call for something that should not 
come and go like everything else, that should be be- 
fore, and after, *and for ever, that should hold and 
support everything, that should make man feel at 


home in this strange world. Before this vague 
yearning could assume any definite shape it wanted a 
name : it could not be fiilly grasped or clearly con- 
ceived except by naming it. But where to look for 
a name ? ^ No doubt the stSrehouse of language ww 
there, but from every name thajj waft tried the mind 
of man shrank back because it did not fit, because 
it seemed \o fetter rather tb&n to wing the jthdfcght 
that fluttered within and called for light and freedom. 
But when at last a naifle or even many names were 
tried and chosen, let us see wBat took place, as far as 
the mind of man was concerned, A certain satisfac- 
tion, no doubt, was gained by having a name or 
several names, however imperfect; but these names, 
like all other names, were but signs poor, imperfect 
signs j they *were predicates, and very partial pre- 
dicates, of various small portions only of that vague 
and vast something which slumbered in the mind. 
When, the name of the brilliant sky bad been daoeen, 
as it has been chosen at one time or other by nearly 
every nation upon earth, was sky the full expression 
of that within the mind which wanted expression? 
Was the mind satisfied ? Had the sky been recog- 
nised as its ^jod? Far from it^ People knew* per- 
fectly well what they meant by the visible sky ; the 
first man who, after looking everywhere foj what he 
wanted, and who at kst in sheer exhaustion grasped 
at the name of sky as better than nothing, kjauaw b&fc 
too well that his success was after all A miaoraWe 
failure. The brilliant sky was. no doubt, the most 
exalted, it was the only unchanging qpd infinite being 
that had received a name, and that could lend its 
name to that as yet unborn Idea of the Infinite which 


disquieted the human mind. But let us only see 
this dearly, that the man who chgse that name 
did not mean, could not have meant, that the visible 
slfcy was all he wanted, that the blue canopy above 
was kis god. 

And now obSferv^ what happens when the name 
sky has thus been given and accepted. The seeking 
and*fin<Jing of such a nafce, however imperfect, was the 
act of a manly mind, of a poet, of a prophet, of a 
patriarch, who could struggle, like another Jacob, 
with the idea of God that was within him, till he had 
conceived it, and brought it forth, and given it its 
name. But when that name had to be used with the 
young and the aged, with silly children and doting 
grandmothers, it was impossible to preserve it from 
being misunderstood. The first step downwards 
would be to look upon the sky as the abode of that 
Being which was called by the same name ; the next 
step would be to forget altogether what was behind 
the name, and to implore the sky, the visible canopy 
over our heads, to send rain, to protect the fields, the 
cattle^ and the corn, to give to man his daily bread. 
Nay, very soon those who warned* the world that it 
was not the visible^ sky that was meant, but that 
what was meant was something high above, deep 
below, far away from tbe blue firmament, wonld be 
looked^ upon either as dreamers whom no one could 
understand, or as unbelievers who despised the sky, 
the great benefactor of the world. Lastly, many 
things that were true of the visible sky would be 
told of its divine^ namesake, and legends would spring 
up, destroying every trace of the deity that once wag, 
hidden beneath that ambiguous name. 


I call this variety of acceptation, this misunder- 
standing, which is inevitable in ancient and also in 
modem religion, the dialectic growth and decay, or, if 
you like, the dialectic life of religion, and we shall qpe 
again and again, how important it is in enabling us 
to form a* right estimate of religions language and 
thought. The dialectic shades in the language of 
religion ar8 almost infinite; they explain the dacay, 
but they also account for the life of religion. You 
may remember that Jaoob Grimm, in one of his 
poetical moods, explained the origin of High and Low- 
German, of Sanskrit and Prakrit, of Doric and Ionic, 
by looking upon the high dialects as originally the 
language of men, upon the low dialects as origin&lly 
the language of women and children. We can ob- 
serve, I believe, the same parallel streams in the lan- 
guage*of religion, There is a high and there is a low 
dialect ; there is a broad and there is a narrow dia- 
lect; there are dialects for men and dialects for chil- 
dren, for clergy and laity, for the noisy streets and 
for the still and lonely chamber. And as the child on 
growing up to manhood has to unlearn the language 
of the nursery, its*religion, too, has to be translated 
from a feminize into a more masguline dialect. This 
does not take place without a struggle, and it is this 
constantly recurring struggle, this inextinguishable 
desire to recover itself, which keeps religion from 
utter stagnation. From first to last religion Jg #tt$^. , 
lating between these two opposite poles> and $ &&$y 
if the attraction of one of the two poles becomes too 
strong, that 'the healthy movement cejtses, and stag- 
nd decay set in. If religkm cannot aecom- 
itself on tte on side to the capacity of 


children, or if on the other side it fails to satisfy the 
requirements of men, it has lost its vitality, and it 
becomes either mere superstition or mere philosophy. 

If I have succeeded in expressing myself clearly, I 
taint you will understand in what sense it may he 
said that there Js truth in all religions, ^en in the 
lowest. The intenfion which led to the first utter- 
an<v of a name like sky, used no lotiger in its 
material sense, but in a higher sense, was right. The 
spirit was witting, but language was weak. The 
mental process was ot, as commonly supposed, an 
identification of the definite idea of deity with sky. 
Such a process is hardly conceivable. It was, on the 
contrary, a first attempt at defining the indefinite im- 
pression of deity by a name that should approxi- 
mately or metaphorically render at least one of its 
most prominent features. The first framer of that 
name of the deity, I repeat it again, could as little 
have thought of the material heaven as we do when 
we speak of the kingdom of heaven 1 . 

And now let us observe another feature of ancient 
religion that has often been so startling, but which, if 
we dhly remember what is the natoe of ancient lan- 
guage, becomes likewise perfectly intejjigible. It is 
well known that ancient languages are particularly 
rich in synonymes, or, to speak more correctly, ^that in 
them the*same object is called by many names is, in 
fact, polyonymous. While in modern languages most 
objects have one name only, we find in ancient San- 
skrit, in ancient Greek and Arabic, a large choice of 
words for the same object. This is perfectly natural, 

1 Medhnirt, 'Eaqtdry, 1 p. 20. 


Each name could express one side only of whatever 
had to be named, and, not satisfied with one partial 
name, the early framers of language produced one 
name after the other, and after a time retained those 
which seemed most useful fospecial purposes. !bus, 
the sky m%ht be called ^ot only th Brilliant, but the 
dark, the covering, the thundering, thfc pain-giving. 
This is tkQ+polyonomy of language, and it iVwiw 
are accustomed to call polytheism in religiot, 
same mental yearning wtych found its first 
tion in using the name of the brilliant sky as an indi- 
cation of the Divine, would soon grasp at other ifemea 
of the sky, not expressive of brilliancy, and therefore 
more appropriate to a religious mood in which the 
Divine was conceived as dark, awful, all-powerful. 
Thus we find* by the side of Dyaus, another name 
of the* covering sky, Varuwa, originally only another 
attempt at naming the Divine, but which, like the 
name of Dyaus, soon assumed a separate and inde- 
pendent existence. 

And this is not all. The very imperfection of all 
the names that had been chosen, their very inadequacy 
to express the fulnqps and infinity of the Divine, tfould 
keep up the search for new names, till at last every 
part of nature in which an approach to the Divine 
could be discovered was chosen as a name of the 
Omnipresent. If the presence of the Divine*was per- 
ceived in the strong wind, the strong wind b&&8& iig 
name ; if its, presence was perceived in the aa^^sp& ' 
and the firet the earthquake and the fire became its 

Do you still wonder at polytheisft or at mytho- 
logy? Why, they are inevitable. They are, if you 


like* a parler enfantin of religion. But the world has 
its childhood, and when it was a child it spoke as a 
child, it understood as a child, it thought as a child; 
and, I say again, in that it spoke as a child its lan- 
guage was true, in that it believed as a child its 
religion was true. The fault Crests wittf us, if we 
insist on taking flie language of children for the 
language of men, if w attempt to translate literally 
ancien? into modern language, oriental into occidental 
speech, poetry into prose 1 . 

It is perfectly true that at present few interpreters, 
if airy, would take such expressions as the head, the 
face, the mouth, the lips, the breath of Jehovah in a 
literal sense. 

Per questo la Scrittura conde^ende 
A vostra facilitate, e piedi e mano 
Atfcribuisce a Dio, et altro intende 2 . 

But what does it mean, then, if we hear one of our 
most honest and most learned theologians declare that 
he can no longer read from the altar the words of the 
Bible, 'God spake these words and said"? If we can 
make allowance for mouth and lips and breath, we 
can surely make tfle same allowance for words and 
their utterance. The language of antiquity is the 
language of childhood : ay v and we ourselveS, when 
we try to reach the Infinite and the Divine by means 

1 'An earl; Oriental historian does not write in the exact and accurate 
style of a nineteenth century Occidental critic.' Canon Bawlinson, in 
the Lectures delivered under the auspices of the Christian Evidence 

Dante, 'Paradise,' iv, 44-46. 



of more abstract terms, are wo even now 

than children trying to place a ladder agains^ 

The parkr wifantin in religion is not extinct', it 
never will be. Not only hare some of the an^ieA 
childish religions beenjkept alive, as, {or insbance, the 
religion of India, which is to m^ mind like a half- 
fossilised megatherion walking about in the brgad 
daylight of the nineteenth century ; but in oflr oWn 
religion and in the language of the New Testament, 
there are many things which disjelose their true mean- 
ing to those only who know what language is made 
of, who have not only ears to hear, but a heart to 
understand the real meaning of parables. 

What I maintain, then, is this, that as we put the 
most charitatje interpretation on the utterances of 
children, we ought to put the same charitable inter- 
pretation on the apparent absurdities, the follies, the 
errors, nay, even the horrors of ancient religion. 
When we read of Belus, the supreme god of the Ba- 
bylonians, cutting off his head, that the blood flowing 
from it might be mixed with the dust out of which 
man was to be formed, this sounds horrible enough ; 
but depend uijon it what was originally intended by 
this myth was no more than this, that there is in 
man an element of Divine life : that * we are also His 
blood, or His offspring.' 

The same idea existed in the ancient rsligioa j& the 
Egyptians, for we read in the i?th chapter $F fiwir 
Bitual, that the Sun mutilated himself, and that frpm 
the stream of his blood he created all beings 1 . And 

1 Vicomte de Roug<3, in 'Ajanaies de PMloaophie c&r&tenne,' Nov. 
I&69, P- 33^. 


the author of Genesis, too, when he wishes to express 
the sa^jne idea, can only use the same human and sym- 
bolical language ; he can only say tha*t ' God formed 
man from the dust of the ground, and breathed into 
hfs npstrils the breath ofelife/ 

In Mexico, at the festival of BjuitzilpochtH, an image 
of ttuTgod, made of the seeds* of plants, and the blood 
of igimolated children, was pierced by a preest with an 
arrow kt the end of the ceremony. The king ate 
the heart, and the rest of r the body was distributed 
among the congregation. This custom of eating the 
bo<Jy c of God, which can well be conceived sym-* 
helically, is apt to degenerate into crude fetishism, 
36 that the faithful believes in the end that he really 
feeds on his God, not in the true, the spiritual, but in 
the false, the material, sense 1 . 

If we have once learnt to be charitable and rea- 
sonable in the interpretation of the sacred books of 
other religions, we shall more easily learn to fee 
charitable and reasonable in the interpretation of our 
own. We shall no longer try to force a literal 
sense on words which, if interpreted literally, must 
lose their true and original purport, we shall no 
longer interpret the Law and the Prophets as if they 
had been written in the English of our own century, 
but read hem IB a truly historical spirit, prepared 
for many'oiirlculties, undismayed by many contradic- 
tions, %rhich, so far from disproving the authenticity, 
become to the historian of ancient language and 
ancient thought the strongest confirmatory evidence 
of the, age, the genuineness, and the real truth of 

1 See Wundt, ' VarleBungen dber Msnsohen und Thierseele/ yd. ii. 
p. 262. 


ancient sacred books. Let us but treat our own 
sacred books with neither more nor less mercy than 
the sacred books of any other nations, and they will 
soon regain that position and influence which they? 
once possessed^ but which the artificial and 
historical theories of the last three centuries 
well-nigh destroyed,