« VorigeDoorgaan »
plicity of phraseology which repder the Whatever critics may think and say of perfections of Renan's works no merely Renan and bis conclusions, his works have negative qualities. Here we see the man at least been produced in sincerity of puras he really is, and, despite the prevalent pose and faithfulness of heart. No doubt pessimism of the present day, we find that ihey will find in them much to condemn there still exist magnificent ideals and noble ou the ground of erring judgment, but thoughts, pure souls and heroic hearts. they must allow that he has by bis labors There are times in life when one looks well earned his position in the front rank back into the past more willingly than of that galaxy of elegant essayists, brilliant into the future, and when, like the pedes- critics, and profound thinkers who have trian wearied with the distance travelled, helped to make the century renowned. one finds a melancholy joy in turning to One of those intellectual giants of earth Jook once more at the road over which he who still lire to excite our wonder and has passed ; so there is a softer touch in arouse our admiration. Others there are this philosopher's Souvenirs as he lifts the lesser lights, famous in their degreeveil of the past than in any of his other by whom the world has been enlightened works. Behind him he sees a tangible and refined; but Ernest Renan stands reality, before him nothing but an infini- forth conspicuous among them as one of tude of time and an infinitude of space. the loftier spirits of our time, one of those Starting in life he was governed at the who must leave indelible traces on the outset by immutable dogmas, inflexible page of history, and a distinctive mark on rules, universal truths ; then comes the the age in which we live. And if he has contact with life, the study of history, the unfortunately devoted a great portion of habit of analyzing, until he ends up like his life and his consummate intellect to Benjamin Constant by imagining no prop- endeavoring to pierce the shadows and osition is true and doubting everything. darkness which overwhelm that unboundFinding in all dogmas and in all theories ed prospect of eternity lying before us— something which attracts himself, he is to trying to solve in his own way some of noy as a spiritualist against the material- the great mysteries which surround us, ist, and anon a materialist fighting the forgetful that science demonstrates that spiritualist.
the progress of the world has not been Such is the story of Ernest Renan's life, achieved by men refusing to believe or and even this hasty and superficial glimpse submit to that which they did not underat the nature of the trials through which he stand, but the reverse let us try to rehas passed should at least help us to ap member that many weaknesses, even many preciate the vast difference existing be- errors and faults, have their own peculiar tween him and the Rousseau school. His beauty, and that matters human inspire works have at least not been written sim- but two thoughts in well-balanced hearts : ply to satisfy his pride in defying the admiration and pity. Renan—that St. judgment of God and man. No ; rather Thomas of to-day-deserves both ! let us think of him as Thales, who looked so long upward to the stars, heedless of “The heights by great men reached and kept the earth on which he walked, that he at
Were not attained by sudden flight ; last fell into the water. It was afterward
But they, while their companions slept, said that had he looked into the water he
Were toiling upward in the night. might have seen the stars, but looking to
- Westminster Review. the stars he could not see the water.
It is a circumstance of real literary in- and depending upon the contributions of terest that there should be published in Native as well as of British writers ; and Calcutta a periodical devoted to the pro- further, that it should attract the support motio Christian learning, under the of so distinguished a Hebraist and Biblical auspices of the Oxford Mission to India, scholar as Professor Cheyne. An article
by this Professor* furnishes the point of the years rolled into the centuries," departure for the following remarks upon and as civilization assumed more positive a subject of interest alike in itself and in and consolidated forms? Be it rememits relation to other and yet wider subjects. bered all along that the question before us
It is the opinion of Professor Cheyne is not whether the knowledge of a future that there is a doctrine of imninortality in state was evolved by man subjectively the Old Testament. He finds it in Psalıns from his own thoughts, or was divinely xvi., xvii., xxxvi., xlix., Ixiii., lxxiii. He imparted. The present question is only thinks he has proved that these Psalms whether, when once received, this particuwere composed * during the latter part of Jar article of religious knowledge progresthe Persian rule over Palestine." In the sively advanced along with the general Review, however, he does not enter upon growth of intelligence, or whether, on the the date of these Psalms : but states a contrary, it declined. principle which serves as a convenient I am not willing, however, to quit altotext for a discussion of the subject touched gether this question of presumption a priori by it. The principle is thist :
without drawing an inference in parallel It involves a much greater strain upon faith subject matter, which appears to me releto hold that the wonderful intuition of immor. vant, and rather strong. tality was granted so early as the times of If the advance of civilization imported David and Solomon, than to bring the Psalms the growth of intelligence, and if the adin question down to the late Persian age.
vance of intelligence quickened the mental The general doctrine which appears to eye for the perception of things beyond be here conveyed is to something like the the material range, this quickening, it is following effect : that the human race ad- obvious, would be available, not for the vances through experience, heredity, and future only, but for tbe unseen world at tradition, from infancy towards maturity ; large, both as to a standing consciousness that the mind, subjected to these educative of its existence, and as to a readiness to agencies, undergoes a process of expan- acknowledge and accept the presence on sion, and becomes capable in a later age earth, and in human affairs, of any bejngs of accepting intelligently what in an earlier by whom it is supposed to be peopled. age it could not have been fit to receive. It is intelligible, indeed, that a distincIn my opinion such a doctrine requires an tion may be drawn between a belief in important qualification ; because moral Providence, and a belief in Theophany, elements, as well as those which are intel- or in the marvellous under any of its many lectual, go to form our capability of profit- forms. Let us accept this distinction. It able reception, and because it depends will still, I apprehend, remain undeniable upon the due proportion and combination that the onward movement of ancient of the two whether an advance in the civilization did not in practice enliven, understanding shall or shall not bring us but rather, on the contrary, tended to nearer to the truth. But, for the sake of weaken or efface the belief in the docargument, let the doctrine stand. If it trine of Providence ; in an unseen but constands, it sustains a presuinption that stant superintendence and direction of knowledge with respect to a future life, human affairs by the Divine power. I after once being imparted, improved in take Homer and Herodotos as two inen the early stages of human history with the who, while separated in time by a number lapse of time. But, as yet, the doctrine of centuries even greater than the four rests only on the footing of an argument which the historian allows, were both of a priori. From this there actually lies an them, according to the lights and opporappeal to the argument derivable from tunities of their day, pious men. But how positive testimony. Does our information far stronger, more familiar, and nore with regard to the religions of the ancients vivid, is the sense of a Providence truly lead us to believe that the sense of a divine, of the theos and theoi quite apart future world advanced, or that it receded, from polytheistic limitations, in Homer
than in Herodotos. Take another step, * Indian Church Quarterly Review, April, say of half a century, from Herodotos to sion Press; London : Masters, 78 New Bond Thucydides ; and you encounter a work Street.)
of history generally as perfect in its † lbid., p. 128.
manipulation as the highest productions of Phidias ; but a work, also, the author to labor under this great difficulty, that of which had lost all touch of the religious the Greek or Olympian religion is the only idea, and could hardly be said to see, what religion of antiquity which we can trace even Agnosticism thinks it sees, the fact at all minutely in its different phases of a mighty or an almighty power work- through the literature and records of the ing behind
an impenetrable curtain. country ; whereas it is by no means a reWell : during the interval of time be- ligion which distinctively enshrines the tween Homer and Thucydides the prog. doctrine of a future state. In the case of ress of Greece in civilization had been im- Assyria, while we might hope for testimense ; but she had lost her grasp of the mony extending over a lengthened period, doctrine of Providence, of the nearness of the destiny of mankind after death did deity to inan, of its living care for human not, according to Canon Rawlinson, ocaffairs and interests. And whatever may cupy a prominent place in the beliefs of be said of the speculations of Plato, an in- the people.*
And if we
turn to the tellect more muscular, more comprehen- Egyptian, and the Iranian or Persian resive, and more entirely Greek—the intel. ligions, tbe means of comparing their lect of Aristotle-places the element of earlier with their later states seem to be deity at a distance from buman life as very incomplete though not wholly insigwide as that of the Lucretian heaven. nificant. The Persian religion in its This was not, evidently, because of a de- earlier condition was one of a dualism of cline in intellectual capacity. But the abstract: conceptions, and it progressively aggregate of the influences operative upon developed them into rival personalities. human perception had enfeebled the sense In the course of time, the country came of the unseen present. The presumption, under the influence of Magianism. To though (thus far) no more than a pre- the early Zoroastrianism, there had been sumption, herewith arises that it would attached a strong belief in a future state also enfeeble the sense of the unknown of a retributive character. But when future.
Herodotos † wrote his account of the PerNow let us pass on to the direct evi- sian religion he described the Magian sysdence available upon the subject before tem and its elemental worship, and seems us : and I will recite at once the conclu- to have known little or nothing of the sions which the facts, as far as we know older Persian scheme, unless on the negathem, seem to me to recommend. They tive side, where it rejected temples, are as follows :
images, and altars. The older form had 1. That the movement of ideas between now apparently come to be the religion of the time of civilization in its cradle, and the Court, rather than of the people. I the time of civilization in its full-grown The religion of abstract ideas had lost stature, on the subject of future retribu- ground ; that which was sacerdotal and tion, if not of a future existence generally, pantheistic had gained it. I see thus far was a retrograde, and not a forward, move- no sign of progress in the doctrine of a ment.
future state. The inference rather is that 2. That there is reason, outside the it was passing into the shade. Psalter, to think that the Old Testament The historical relations, however, beimplies the belief in a future state, as a twcen Greece and the Persian empire belief accepted among the Hebrews; al- were so important that, probably on this though it in no way formed an element account, a large number of the Greek of the Mosaic usages, and cannot be said writers, Aristotle himself included, gave to be prominent even in the Psalıns. attention to the religion of the great an
3. That the conservation of the truth tagonist whom Alexander finally overconcerning a future state does not appear threw. It was, most probably, the later to have constituted a specific element in condition of that religion, to which their the divine commission intrusted to the accounts relate. The most important of Hebrew race, and that it is open to con- them, from Herodotos to Plutarch, are sideration, whether more was done for the textually cited or described in Dr. Haug's maintenance of this truth in certain of the Gentile religions.
* Ancient Religions, p. 77. As regards the first of these proposi
+ Herod. i. 131, 138 ; iii, 16. tions, which is one of fact only, we seem | Rawlinson's essay, in his Herod. i. 426-31.
Essays on the Parsees.* No one of them, each dead man and lord of the Underexcept that ascribed to Theopompos, world, in that it savored too much of matmakes any reference to the future state. ter, or was in some way behind the age. We shall see presently what a place this Again, lamblichus, writing in the age of doctrine occupied in the earlier times of Constantine, and discussing the Egyptian Zoroastrianism.
religion, assigns to it a high rank, but does The political relations of Greece with not seem to include the idea of a future the Egyptian empire appear to have been state ainong its inotive powers.* Thus, important in the prehistoric period ; but then, the doctrine of the future state, if the notices of them are few and undeter- viewed as a working portion of religion, mined. In the great literary age, they lost force and did not gain it with the were of secondary concern. It has be- lapse of time under the Egyptian system, come well known, from the monuments, which had been so famous for its early inhow powerfully the doctrine of the future culcation, life was developed in the archaic religion Undoubtedly this seems to have been of Egypt. It was not to be expected that the case also with the Greeks. The genius the classical period should here supply us of that extraordinary people does not apwith information such as it has furnished pear at any time to have qualified or inwith respect to the religion of Persia. clined them to adopt with anything like But Herodotos was led, partly by the earnestness or force that belief, which is peculiarities of the case of Egypt gener- so marked in the religions of Egypt and ally, and partly from his acknowledging a of Persia at an early date. Homer is here certain early connection between its re- our principal authority : and what we ligion and that of Greece, to devote more gather from the Odyssey is that the Underthan forty sections of his second Book to world of the Poet is evidently an exotic his account of it. I Yet that principal ac. and imported conception, made up of elecount does not contain one word of refer- ments which were chiefly supplied from ence to future retribution, or of belief in the religions of Egypt and Assyria. We the existence of the soul after death ; may also observe that the place he finds although in another portion of his work for it lies in the outer zone of his geogwe shall see that he mentions the primi- raphy, beyond the great encircling River tive Egyptian teaching.
Okeanos. In the Iliad, the great national The fifteenth Satire of Juvenal censures and patriotic poem of Homer, the doctrine in the strongest terms the Egyptian re- of the future life appears only in the case ligion of his own day, at once debased and of Patroklos, and there only as a vague, fanatical. He then closes the satire in an remote, and shadowy image. The Egypethical strain of remarkable loftiness ; and tian name for the kingdom of the dead it might be thought that, had future retri- was Amenti, which seems to reappear in bution been a living and prominent por- the Greek Rhadamanthos. There is a tion of the Egyptian religion of his day, singular circumstance associated with one he could hardly have avoided making of the discoveries of Schliemann at Mysome reference to it, especially as he ap
In a tomb fifteen fect six inches pears to have been himself a believer in in length, and only five feet six inches in the unseen world. But in the Isis et breadth, the bodies of full-grown men are Osiris of Plutarch, I find a passage which, laid not along but across the space, being if I understand it rightly, signifies that thus squeezed in the strangest manner. the Egyptian priests of his time had be- But they were in this way made to lie come somewhat ashamed of the old defi- east and west, and toward the west : and nite, circumstantial teaching of their re- such we learn was the position in which ligion concerning Osiris, || as the judge of the Egyptians laid their dead. + Minos is
also introduced to us as a personage in the * Essays on the Sacred Language, Writings, Underworld of the Odyssey, and he is enand Religion of the Parsees, by Dr. Martin Haug. Edited and enlarged by Dr. West. (London, gaged in administering justice. So far 1890.) Essay I. pp. 3-16.
we follow the Egyptian idea. But the P. 9.
| Vol. ii. 35-76.
Greek spirit took the heart and life out of Sat. ii. 149 sqq. | Plut. de Is. et Os. 382. 37. TOUTO, Otep oi * samblichus de Mysteriis, 159-9. (Lugduni υύν ιερείς αφοσιούμενοι και παρακαλυπτόμενοι μετ' 1577.) ευλαβειας υποδηλούσιν. .
+ Schliemann's Mycenæ, xxxii, iii. and 295.
the realm of Osiris. Minos sits, so to David and Solomon, and that it was merspeak, not as a criminal but as a civil cifully withheld from primitive man who judge : he does not punish the guilty for could only feed on milk, to be administheir misdeeds on earth, but simply meets tered as strong meat to a later and more the wants of a community for an arbitrator mature generation ? of determining authority in their affairs.* Even were such evidence to be fouthNo one, whoin we can certainly call a coming on behalf of the general proposicompatriot of Homer's, appears in the tion, we should still have to ask how it is Underworld as under penal suffering : not known, or why it is to be believed, that for instance, Aigisthos, or Klutaimnestra, the idea of immortality was made known who might have been fit subjects for it. to the Hebrews from Persian sources ? In the ethical code of Homer, there is no The Captivity was not a Persian, but a clear recognition of penalty for sin ; ex- Babylonian captivity.. The advent of cept it be for perjury upon the breach of Persian power brought it to a close. It great public pacts; and this penalty is was Magianisın, rather than Zoroastrianmade applicable to gods and men alike. ism, that the political influence of Persia The only case, in which he associates the at the time would have been likely to imexistence after death with bappiness, is part. But what proof is there, during that of Menelaos. Menelaos is among the the period which followed the return, and purest characters of the Poems : but the
preceded the Greek supremacy, of this reason given for his fortunate lot is, that kind of Persian influence over the Hebrew he was the husband of Helen, and son-in- people? The adoption of Persian words law of Zeus.f It is, however, plain that in the popular language was a general fruit there must have been a general belief in a of Persian power, and is said not to bare future state among his contemporaries, or included subjects of religion.* But I pas we should not find it as we now find it on to the second of the three heads which mbo and developed in a poem essen- have been proposed. tially popular. It was, then, an article of the national
II. belief in the heroic age. What became of it in the classical period ? It faded out The six Psalıns, indicated by Professor of notice. There grew up instead of it Cheyne as those in which the hope of iinthat remarkable idea of the self-sufficiency mortality may perhaps be traced, all lie of life, which became a basis for Greek within the first, that is, speaking generexistence. Apart from particular excep- ally, the older portion of the Psalter. For tions, and from the mysteries, which re- those who suppose them to have belonged mained always only mysteries for the peo- to the worship of Solomon's temple, and ple, things temporal and things seen affixed who are glad to follow Professor Cheyne all round a limit to human interests. The
when he proves that they embody the Underworld could not have been treated hope of a future life, it would be someas it is treated by Aristophanes, in any what anomalous to believe that, while the country except one where for the mind of public service taught this doctrine, no the people at large it had ceased to have a inark of it had been left, outside the Temreally religious existence. The disputed ple walls, upon the historical books of the existence which it obtained in some of the Old Testament, or in the sense of the peophilosophical schools is itself a witness to
ple. True, the doctrine of a future existthe fact that for man as such, in the wear ence is not prominent upon the face of and tear of centuries, the idea had not the older Scriptures. Neither, it might upon the whole, gained ground, but lost perhaps be said, is it very conspicuous in it, among the most intellectual people ever
the speech and actions of the Pharisees in known.
the Gospels, who notwithstanding are Have we not then to wait for the evi- known to have held it. But yet we should dence which is to show that the doctrine expect to find some traces of it : and our of immortality would have been too great Lord has actually tanght us that it is cona strain for the Hebrews at the reputed veyed in the declaration that God was the era of the composition of the Psalms under God of Abraham and of Isaac and Jacob ;
* Haug, p. 5.
* Odyssey, xi. 568–71. † Ibid. iv. 569.
New SERIES – VOL. LIV., No. 5.