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General Cesnola in the island of Cyprus, whose magnificent collection is now in the Metropolitan Museum at Central Park, New York. Besides porcelain work, this collection contains jewelry of gold, silver, and precious stones, which are as beautiful in design and perfection of workmanship as the best of modern times. Most of their things were found beneath the temple of Kurium in Cyprus, where they had been buried in subterranean chambers about 3,400 years; long before the destruction of Troy and the known civilization of Greece, which derived most of the letters of her alphabet from Phænicia. Cyprus was a Phænician colony. From the South, therefore, from Tyre and from its neighbor Egypt, came the beginning of the world's career in commerce and in manufacturing industry.
Carthage, a Phænician colony on the shore of the Mediterranean, in Northern Africa, was long the rival of Rome. In the arts and commerce she resembled her parent Tyre. Being finally destroyed by Rome, little is now left to tell of her former greatness, except what is told by Roman historians.
We read of other great cities which flourished in Northern Africa during the wars between Rome and Carthage. Nor is the interior of Africa at the present time the benighted region supposed by many. Barth, a learned German, spent several years there and published his travels a few years ago. He tells of cities and cultivated farms and schools ; the Mahomedan being the religion, and the Arabic the language, of the most intelligent of the people.
A few years ago Thcodore Dwight (then Secretary of the New York Ethnological Society), showed me an Arabic manuscript of many pages made by a negro slave of Virginia, who was a native prince of Africa. The writing was much better than we usually see. Mr. Dwight told me that he had permitted several Arabic scholars to examine it, and they pronounced its grammar and construction of the first-class. His Virginia master had permitted the negro to write a sketch of his life, and how he was made a captive in war.
III. Persepolis, the ancient capital of Persia, is nearly in lat. 30°. Here was the palace of Darius and his successors, Xerxes and Artaxerxes, who conquered India on the east, and Syria and Asia Minor on the west. From here Cyrus, the founder of the Persian
Empire, probably issued his orders for the rebuilding of Jerusalem. Here was that famous palace which Alexander, when drunk, ordered to be burned, 330 years before Christ. Here, also, was the home of the religion of Zoroaster, the national religion of the Persians, whose sacred book is the Zend-Avesta, which is a collection of hymns, prayers, invocations, and thanksgivings. The followers of Zoroaster believe in two great antagonistic spirits—a good and evil—the good is called Oromazes and the bad Ahriman, to which was added Mithras as a Mediator. Finally the good spirit will conquer, and all mankind will be made happy, and neither need focd or make a shadow. The Persian Magi had no altars or temples or images. They worship on hills and mountains, where they kindle fires and adore the heavens. Their religion is a moral one, and their sacred book abounds in good precepts. This great creed, which in the Gnostic, Manichean, Paulician, Bogomile, and Catharian sects extended its influence through Christendom until the later Middle Ages, originated in this Southern land, centuries before Christ, and gave shape to a great Empire which extended from beyond Egypt to the gates of India.
IV. A little southeast of the capital of Persia were the great cities of Babylon and Nineveh, of the great Semitic race. Recently, at the old site of Nineveh, beneath a mass of rubbish, were found the remains of what had been a great Assyrian library, the leaves of its books made of thin plates of baked clay. From some of these books made about 4,000 years ago, we learn that Chaldea may have been the parent-land of astronomy, for the Babylonians catalogued the stars and named the constellations, especially the twelve that make our present zodiac, to show the course of the sun's path in the heavens. They also divided time into months and years, and the week into seven days, six for work and the seventh for rest. These books have an account of the flood, similar to that of the Bible. For in these cities of the great valley, on the eastern frontier of the Shemitic race, was preserved the same great tradition of the beginning of the world and of the human race as was preserved among the Jews. If the current of tradition varies at all, it is that in Nineveh and Babylon these are later and unworthy additions to what the Bible gives in purity and simplicity. In both countries it differs utterly from the account preserved among the Egyptians.
V. According to the Hindoos, as taught by their most learned sect the Brahmins, India has the most ancient literature in the world Certainly, at least a thousand years before the Christian era, she had powerful empires whose people had attained a high degree of knowledge in civilization and the fine arts, of which the ancient literature of the Sanscrit language and her architectural monuments give ample proof. Her two great epic poems, the Raymayana and Mahabharata give valuable information about the ancient customs, religion, and civilization of the Hindoos. Their oldest religious books are the Vedas, whose chief gods were Indra, Varuna and Agni; the first was the god of the air, the second the ocean of light, or heaven, the third of fire, to which were added two more, one of the sun and one of the moon. But Colebrooke says, “the ancient Hindoo religion recognizes but one God." Max Müller says, “ It would be easy to find in the numerous hymns of the Veda passages in which almost every single god is represented as supreme.” Agni is called the “Ruler of the Universe ;” Indra is celebrated as the "strongest god,” etc. In one hymn of the oldest Veda it is said, “They call him Indra, Mitra, Varuna, Agni; the he is the well-winged heavenly one : He who is One, and the Wise call Him many ways.”
The unity of God is plainly expressed in one of the oldest hymns of the Vedas, of which I only have space to give a part.
“In the beginning there arose the Source of golden light. He was the only born Lord of all that is. He established the earth and the sky. He is the God to whom we shall offer our sacrifice.
“ It is he who gives life. He who gives strength ; whose blessing all the bright Gods desire ; whose light is immortality, whose shadow is death. He is the God to whom we shall offer our sacrifice.
“He who through His power is the only king of the breathing and awakening world. He who governs all; man and beast. He is the God to whom we shall offer our sacrifice.
“He whose power these snowy mountains, whose power the sea proclaims, with the distant river. He whose these regions are, as it were his two arms.
“He through whom the sky is bright, and the earth firm. He through whom heaven was 'stablished ; nay, the highest heaven. He who measured out the light in the air.
“ He to whom heaven and earth, standing firm by His will, look up, trembling inwardly. He over whom the rising sun shines forth.
“He who by His might looked over the water-clouds, the clouds whose thunder's strength lit the sacrifice, He who is God above all gods. He is the God to whom we shall offer our sacrifice.”
The best authorities consider the Vedic period to extend from B. C. 2,400 to B. C. 1,200. Hence, this hymn is probably about 4,000 years old.
But in after ages new gods and new doctrines prevailed. The old religion of Brahmin was eminently spiritualistic, teaching the efficacy of meditation and ascetic penances. And even its later modifications, though less in harmony with occidental thought, display a wonderful amount of mental energy in their construction and elaboration. The various philosophical systems, which succeeded each other in the Indian schools, remind us of the medieval scholastic systems, by their acuteness, and of those of modern Germany by their audacity.
VI. The Buddhist religion also originated in India, from which it was expelled. It is now the creed of most of the Mongol nations; its followers are said to be about three hundred millions. It is the popular religion of China, of Thibet, and the Burman Empire, also of Japan. It has an immense number of sacred books in the Sanscrit language.
A little north of Central India, in the seventh century before Christ, there reigned a wise and good king, whose son, influenced by the ascetic doctrines of Brahminism, determined to turn hermit and devote his life to meditation and prayer, and prepare himself to make men better, and correct the prevailing evils of the world. So one night he left his young wife, father and friends, and became a mendicant. After spending years among the Brahmins he found no true peace there. He left them and wandered on until finally, when seated under a tree, the true knowledge seemed to come to him in a beatific vision. He determined to teach others how they might likewise become happy. He began to preach in the holy city of Benares on the Ganges. He was the original Buddha. His discourses conpose the sacred books of the Buddhist. He converted great numbers, his father among the rest, and died at the age of eighty. Buddhism is an eminently moral religion, teaching :
“ I. Right belief, or the correct faith. “ 2. Right judgment, or the wise application of that faith to life.
3. Right utterance, or perfect truth in all we say and do. “ 4. Right motives, or proposing always a proper end and aim. “5. Right occupation, or an outward life not involving sin. “6. Right obedience, or faithful observance of duty. “7. Right memory, or a proper recollection of past conduct.
“8. Right meditation, or keeping the mind fixed on permanent truth."
The five first commandments of the Buddhists are:
“1. Do not kill. 2. Do not steal. 3. Do not commit adultery. 4. Do not lie. 5. Do not become intoxicated."
Mr. Malcom, a Baptist missionary, says: “I saw no.intemperance in Burmah. A man may travel from one end of the kingdom to the other without money, feeding and lodging as well as the people.”
“I have seen thousands together for hours on public occasions, rejoicing in all order, and no act of violence or case of intoxication."
“During my whole residence in the country, I never saw an indecent act or immodest gesture in man or woman.” “To love our enemies, to abstain from even defensive warfare, to govern ourselves, to avoid vices, reverence age, to despise no religion, show no intolerence, not to persecute, are the virtues of these people. Polygamy is tolerated, but not approved. Monogamy is general in Ceylon, Siam, and Burmah. Women are better treated by Buddhism than by any other Oriental religion.”
Buddhism was, before Christianity, the first great attempt to establish a great world-wide religion. It came from the South, but has passed Northward, stimulating vast masses of otherwise inert people to thought and reflection on the greatest problems which can concern mankind. It is now the popular creed of China and Japan.
VII. The Koran, containing the rules of faith and practice of Mahomedans, whose numbers are about one hundred millions of the human race, was made by Mahomet, who was born and lived at Mecca, in tropical Arabia, early in the seventh century. The Koran is written in pure Arabic, in a highly poetical style, so much so as to be called by some a great epic. It teaches the worship of one God,