Review of Aryan Mythology

J. N. Darby.

<44034E> 244

(Notes and Comments Vol. 4.)

{"The Mythology of the Aryan Nations," by George W. Cox, M.A. 2 vols. London, Longmans, Green & Co., 1870.}

Though both are much more learned than I am, Mr. Cox is really carried away by the lady-pleasing flippancy of Mr. Max Muller. Though the research into Vedic myths, as the origin of all, be interesting, it is curious how a couple of sentences in Scripture solve the riddles of volumes. 'The man is become as one of us, knowing good and evil.' There is a conscience which is not a revelation, but in its nature contrary to it, and inherent in man, though revelation acts on it, and then man 'did not like,' ouk edokimasan, 'to retain God in his knowledge' in Romans 1, and Plato and Socrates in Romans 2, and all is explained. There was a law, but no revelation proper, till after man's fall. Yet he says, page 10, 'The reason of man is the Divine Reason dwelling in him; the voice of his conscience is the word of God. That these gifts involved a revelation of divine truth, it is impossible to deny.'

Page 72. 'It was impossible that any real fetish worship could arise while man had not arranged his first conceptions with regard to the nature of all material things, or even to his own. If from the consciousness of his own existence he attributed the same existence to all outward objects, he did so, as we have seen, without drawing any distinctions between consciousness and personality. If, however, this earliest state of things was not followed by one which invested outward things with a personal life, if in some way men could believe in a malignant yet unconscious and non-sentient power residing in stones and rocks, there would at once be developed a fetish worship, the most degrading and the most hopeless, which, if expanded at all, could only issue in a polytheism of devils, etc., etc.' None of these mythologists see that it is the want of a God that has made impressions of nature so powerful. Having originally consciousness of God, power and Godhead, and having lost the Being in whom it was, they took effects and signs, and ascribed power to them, and personified them. There may have been the progress referred to - I think it very likely - but it flows from two things, the consciousness of power above and outside them, and their having lost Him in whom it was, in beneficence. And it is evident that the tracing back from what is can only take the elements of what is. But none of their theories, as far as I know, account for the source element - the notion of power above and outside ourselves - its forms and workings in the mind, but not for the thing itself. Yet power is - the poetry and language connected with it is only the form it takes when God Himself is lost.

245 Another element omitted by them, and, in this book, confounded with the divine Spirit, is conscience - the making the difference in ourselves between good and evil - a thing quite apart from the progress formation of mythology.

Thus by the Scriptural statement all is easy to account for, only the starting point for their theories was really fallen man, not created man. It is not a revelation. He says, 'Mr. Gladstone discerns the germs of that nature-worship which was ingrafted on the true religion originally imparted to mankind.' This is all ignorance of truth, and nonsense. Nor does it suppose man created without knowledge of God, in brutish ignorance, but naturally associated with God, and leaving Him. Besides the power of seducing evil is ignored too.

Page 87. 'If Theseus and Sigurd, Phoibos and Achilleus, Odysseus, Oidipous, and Perseus are though different, yet the same, if their adventures or their times of inaction are simply the fruit of an inevitable process going on in all kindred languages, all charges of immorality founded on the character of these adventures fall completely to the ground.' They do not fall to the ground at all; for why did man's imagination turn the natural images into immorality, and be capable of attaching it to their gods? It was darkness, not light. Conscience worked against it.

Page 96. 'The picture drawn by Dr. Dollinger, of the great Olympian deities, may in all its particulars be strictly true. It is possible or probable that ideas utterly foreign to the Greek mind may have been imported from Phrygia, Phoenicia, or Egypt, and that the worship so developed may have embodied philosophical conceptions of nature and of the powers at work in it. But the question which calls for an answer cannot be determined by the most masterly portraiture of the great gods of the Olympos, and Dr. Dollinger's hypothesis does not enable us to answer it. It starts on an assumption for which we have no evidence; and all the evidence furnished by the book of Genesis and still more all that is furnished by the study of language, militates against the idea that man started originally with a conception of God, 'as a pure, spiritual, supernatural, and infinite being, distinct from the world, and exalted above it.' I agree that man had only the knowledge of a Supreme Power, good, and to whom he owed obedience, and Dr. Dollinger goes, as all Christian doctors, too far. But Cox's idea that men thought clouds were living beings and the like is absurd. They went up a hill and were in the fog. Imagination made them such, and the sun and stars more easily, which seemed to have voluntary motion and were out of reach. That imagination, because they had lost God, peopled woods and springs with beings, is quite true; the rest was made by priests and poets.

246 Page 97, note 2. 'In truth, when we speak of the monotheistic faith of the Jewish people, we speak of their faith of their teachers. All the evidence at our command seems to show that at least down to the time of the Babylonish captivity the main body of the people was incurably polytheistic.' This shows when and why revelation came in in mercy. In Gentiles it was a mixture of images with verbic legends of ancestors - in revelation the correction of it by truth as to One God.

There was no revelation before the fall - free intercourse of God with man, and a law, but no revelation properly speaking, no need of one, nor knowledge of good and evil. By the fall man acquired the knowledge of good and evil, and a revelation of the seed of the woman was added in the judgment of the serpent. A simple law, forbidding an act as to what is present, is not a revelation. But God had spoken to man, and present intercourse was natural, and man was to enjoy everything save what tested obedience. God took care disobedience should bring in conscience, and grace gave a revelation. But Noah's position was different. There was the knowledge of good and evil, and horrible evil and monstrous evil already experienced, revelations and judgment executed on evil, and now even put into man's hands. There had been men of renown, and what seems to be in fables, I do not see any trace of idolatry before the flood. It is a pity men do not take the trouble of reading God's account of the matter, even as a history. It accounts for a thousand things they are puzzling their brains about, without pretending to do it as a history, yet meets facts, and the human mind, and the human conscience, so as even thus to give the clearest evidence of the truth. The key fits the wards, and opens all, small as it is.

It is very curious how the coming in of conscience has been neglected or rejected alike by Christians and philosophers. It is not the Spirit of God, nor a revelation - the contrary in its nature. It is the making difference between good and evil, right and wrong, that is without one. Law is only its rule for man. The Spirit acts on it. But that revelation is only given when fallen, opens out a wide field of thought for the natural state of one right with God, and also in grace. What the Law requires is the maintenance of the relationships in which we are according to God, according to the tenor of them. It is the full rule for conscience, but not for the Christian, because he is brought to God, and knows not what man ought to be merely but what God is. Mr. Gladstone is all wrong also, from not attending to Scripture. The fact of Satan's, or evil, power was known to Adam - he was fallen by it, and the natural goodness of God and revelation declared the woman's seed should bruise the serpent's head. And gradually some glimmerings of clearer revelation came in, but the counsels of God in Christ, and eternal life and incorruptibility was reserved for revelation, when righteousness, the foundation of glory, and accomplishing the counsels, was laid in the Cross and by the coming of the Second Man. The first was the responsible man, the Second connected with counsels and promises. The Cross made all righteous.

247 Mr. Gladstone's theory in his 'Homer and the Homeric age' is, that 'all that is evil in Greek mythology is the result not of a natural and inevitable process, when words used originally in one sense came unconsciously to be employed in another, but of a systematic corruption of very sacred and very mysterious doctrines.' Mr. Cox says, 'On the supposition that Greek mythology was a corrupted religious system, it must, to whatever extent, have supplied a rule of faith and practice, and the actions and characters of the gods must have furnished a justification for the excesses of human passion.' 'The power and wisdom of the Homeric gods is great and lofty, while their moral standard is indefinitely low.' Though I do not take up Mr. Gladstone's theory, Mr. Cox's argument has little force, because consistency in the mythology of a poet, or in any, is a blunder. Only the great elements can be taken, and there are other sources of mythology. 'The idea of God' - mixed up with tradition as to man's history and confused with it - the apotheosis in the stars of men, or the stars themselves, and, as is so well known, the generative principle which exercised an immense influence over it, and the renewal of nature when creation was not believed in. But it is only the abstract general idea you get. What it is clothed in, and legends, come from many sources and an unbridled imagination, and Satan's influence over the mind of man by fear and passion. All gods ever run up into one supreme.

248 And, further, Satan being there, though the thought of God was there, yet man's feeling was distrust of God, and He stood as One jealous of man's getting too much blessing - fire was stolen from heaven, so to speak, in getting wisdom by eating the forbidden fruit. The protoplast got it. And all such things must be taken into account. It is the mixture of God, man, ancestors and stars, in one system of thought that accounts for it and its inconsistencies, and generation and imagination peopling natural forces with being, and all this poetically systematised, which is the shape we have it in, Hellenically, and, in a measure, in Hindooism; and, it must be added, priestcraft. The effect of sin too is left out, for no one can deny that the Grecian gods are largely the 'peopled idea' of passions, and that vain and low-minded people gave their own character to their ideal gods - 'thought,' as the Psalm says, 'that I was altogether such an one as thyself.' It was not merely time but the character of the race that formed it. Still the universality of the same mythology essentially shows a common source. Nor do I doubt that, though variously developed, it had an invention of Satan working in man's nature, when he could not destroy the idea of God. Egyptian mythology is clearly the same. Local traditions are another thing. Probably Sabaeism never originally fell in with this scheme. Epiphanius gives a tradition. It began in Livy's time.

There is another element omitted here when diffusion is taken in, viz., Noah's history and the legends connected with it. And, where dispersion is supposed, as it is by Mr. Cox, in page 99, it would hardly be left out, and, while the mythology of each nation would connect itself with local history, general mythology with original history, and we should get the difference between gods and demi-gods, though all might refer more or less simply and clearly to natural phenomena, we should get the great gods common, and the demi-gods more local, though all mixed up through the common imagery. In many respects Egypt seems to me, whatever the reason, to stand apart, though the gods and local demi-gods are there, at any rate gods of special power. But actual nature had more place, and Amenti (Hades) a very much larger place - Osiris and Typhon, good and evil, and conscience. The dead (unless under curse) were called justified. And the slain Osiris, in some respects the chief of all, was judge of Amenti. And Thoth's office in Amenti I am not aware of having anything like. The whole had a more moral turn in this part, though the idolatry was essentially the same.

249 Page 100. 'No claim to the character of historical traditions can be made out for the same incidents when we find them repeated in the same order and with the same issue in different ages and different lands.' This proof of absence of historical fact at the beginning only applies to his own particular facts and nothing else.

Page 101. In his myths about Niobe, Orpheus and Europe, etc., another priest or poet must have deliberately made the myths out of the expressions. Herakles is the sun, loving and beloved wherever he goes! In Phaethon, we have the plague of drought! Perseus slaying Medusa is the sun killing the night! etc., etc.

Page 106. 'The touching truthfulness of the language which tells of the Dawn as the bright being whom age cannot touch . . . We feel that while the "Homeric" poet spoke of a god in human form born in Delos, he thought of the sun rising in a cloudless heaven, and told how the nymphs bathed the lord of the golden sword in pure water, and wrapped him in a spotless robe,' etc., etc. 'All that is beautiful is invested with a purer radiance, while much, if not all, that is gross and coarse is refined, or else its grossness is traced to an origin which reflects no disgrace on those who framed or handed down the tale.'

Well! I should think turning the pure images of nature into corrupt gods like men, the greatest proof of depravity possible.

Page 109. 'The great epic poems of the Aryan race exhibit an identical framework, with resemblances in detail which defy the influences of climate and scenery.' 'The traditions of many, if not most, of the Aryan nations are now known to us through the long toil and vast researches of comparative mythologists, aided by the mighty machinery of the printing press.' It is the want of God, the fulness of Scripture and divine knowledge that makes these things so important, and the printing press a kind of god. To me, all these discoveries make man exceedingly little.

250 Page 190. 'Far from furnishing any warrant for the conclusion that there was a real Agamemnon and a real Achilles, the great German epic' (the Nibelungen Lied) 'justifies a strong suspicion even of the names which are embodied in the oral traditions of a people.' 'If the Homeric poems tell us no more than that there was a king named Agamemnon, and a chief called Achilles, who may never have been at Troy (for Cromwell was not at Scarborough) and that there was also a struggle of some sort, although we know not what, at Ilion, we have before us a barren statement of which we can make nothing.' All the proofs against an historical groundwork are weak, and forget what poetry is - a composition, but a composition sufficiently taken from facts (when not mere odes) to interest those to whom they are addressed. Were they mere histories they would not be poetry. They may be romances where popular feeling has turned history into a romance, and, if odes to gods, meet popular ideas though assumed to exalt them. But where professedly historic, they need not be facts, but based on facts sufficient to meet popular feeling and tradition; and the analogy of Charlemagne and Roland, Mr. Cog speaks of, just proves this, for we have a case where just the same arbitrary treatment of facts is found, and, according to him, the sun brought in and its history. Yet it is proved to be by contemporary history - to have a basis of facts. One could not have a stronger analogy for the character of the Iliad. An anachronism, such as sending Charlemagne to the crusades, disproves nothing. If there had been no Scarborough, no Cromwell, and no war, the tradition could not have existed, and poetry is not mere tradition. It forms its colour and schemes from the time it lives in.

Page 191. This page is utterly false. The conclusion is, or may be, we cannot on sufficient ground for certainty, receive any narratives, especially as they stand. His sun histories contradict each other, but he gets a clue and accepts all. And where tradition and poetry have made a story, you may have many to suit the poets' taste.

Page 193 is equally weak. He says: 'The method by which the upholders of the so-called Homeric history seek to sustain their conclusions may well appall the sober seekers after truth, who see the havoc thus made in those canons of evidence which should guide the statesman and the judge not less than the scholar.' He makes no allowance for the way poetry introduces what connects itself with known local traditions. Who would take the canons of a judge and law for judging of facts in Homer? There may be disproof But no contradictions, after Charlemagne's being a crusader, will prop up his case.

251 Page 195 is all fudge. He says, 'If we are to admit that the historical character of the Iliad is not affected, even though Agamemnon and Achilles may never have met at all, and no Helen may have existed to give cause to the war, then it is clear that all freedom of judgment is gone. But no one can submit to be thus bound, who believes that his powers of thought are given him as a sacred trust, and that, unless he seeks to know facts as they are, he is chargeable with the guilt of wilful blindness,' etc., etc.

Page 199 is a mistake. The statement of 'greater force in ancestors than in living countrymen,' is common poetry in earlier ages, unless all have copied Homer.

Page 200. 'The critics have torn to shreds the historical character of the Iliad.' The historical character of a poem is all nonsense, save as a traditional basis.

Page 209. 'A philosophical analysis has resolved the materials of these great epics into the earliest utterances of human thought, when man first became capable of putting into words the expressions made on his mind by the phenomena of the outward world.' I confess, to me it seems exceedingly stupid this meagre repetition, met only by the multifarious grossness of the Purana and Vedic tales. But note how Mr. Cox himself sees nothing but this life - God does not come in. He has only its toil and its monotony. I have always felt that poetry was only an effort to have a larger sphere for the mind, because it had not the true larger world of faith. But how poor it is! Only it shows what is cannot satisfy man's mind. Besides, be it that Achilles is the sun, and that someone borrowed the legends current to make a poem - the whole details of the Iliad, a man must be very unpoetical to see only a Sun-god in. The pretensions of this page are only this, one source of certain elements of the Iliad has been found, and only the barest skeleton, yea backbone of it - therefore there can be none else! To me it is quite indifferent. But if there is an Iliad and an Achilleis, this is knocked on the head. Ajax is not the sun too.

252 The general uniformity of mythology has long been a settled point with me, and proof how little and poor man is, but this leaves many other questions wholly unsettled, and Mr. Cox is very superficial, and takes much for granted, even as to the origin of language, the connection of names, and idol worship with stars, and a host of other points. Supposing I ask why, if Dyaus be Zeus, he is born in Crete? Mr. Cox gives no answer - Why Nebrod (Orion, Nimrod) and his dog are in the sky? No answer - Why Jupiter is a planet? No answer, or, if there be, one language does not explain it, let it be Sanskrit twice over, nor blunders as to similar words. But then, when his idol Philology is made to explain the growth of morality, it is violating not only revelation but the existing relationships amongst men. I know 'daughter' means a girl who milks, but that may show a daughter was a milkmaid, not that there was no sense of the relationship, and that men grew from milking to know natural relationships. Did a mother not feel what her child was till she could milk the cows? Her sucking child, the fruit of her womb, was what she knew. It is monstrous nonsense, and that is all - a poor hobby, and absence of all thought. He says: 'In the Aryan names for father, brother, sister, daughter, we have the proof that the words existed for an indefinite length of time before they assumed the meanings which we now assign to them, and we are forced to conclude that the recognition of family relations was not the first step in the history of mankind.' Besides, Ormuzd and Ahriman are not Hindoo mythology. The sense of good and evil lies deeper than observation of natural phenomena, though these may be mixed up with it. He says: 'The character of the struggle between Phoebus and Python, Achilles and Paris, Oedipus and the Sphinx, and Ormuzd and Ahriman indicated the fight between the co-ordinate powers of good and evil,' etc.

Page 216. 'A vast number of incidents belonging to the Trojan war, not mentioned or barely noticed in our Iliad and Odyssey, were treated of in epic poems current in the days of the great Attic tragedians. From this vastly inferior literature Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides drew so largely that at least sixty of their known plays are taken directly from it, while only two are taken from the Iliad and Odyssey.' If the tragedians, etc., refer to other poems called Homeric, as Iliads, and for stories connected with Ilion, we have the strongest proof of a consistent tradition that, with various accounts, some events interesting to Greece had happened there. But it is singular that the conviction that no man in any country had a thought beyond the struggle of light and darkness, summer and winter, does not give the idea how utterly low and poor the state was to which man had reduced himself. Besides it is the phenomena turned into fables, not the phenomena admired or observed which we have. The actual history of Ahriman pursuing Ormuzd's beneficent creation, and ruining it, as a fable, has nothing to do with his sun-struggle, though Ahura-Mazdao is to have the upper hand at the end. Nor is his system consistent, for the sun was to die, according to the ideas of men, but he goes to the cave of the Gorgons to fight with the powers of darkness, and so in all the stories.

253 Page 234. 'The myth of the Lykian Sarpedon has a close affinity with that of the Ethiopian Memnon; and in the Ethiopians who fight at Troy we have another people for whom it becomes impossible to find a local earthly habitation. The story explains itself. The tears which Eos sheds on the death of her child are morning dew. The men who follow him are, according to the Herodotean story, exempt from the ills of humanity; and their tables are always loaded with banquets which no labour of theirs has provided. We shall find the Ethiopians dwelling not on the coasts of Asia and Africa, but in the bright Aether, the ethereal home of Zeus himself, far above the murky air of our lower world.' All this is simply ridiculous. I suppose there was something besides Aether in the land of Cush, be it east or west, and men in Tyre and Sidon, let the Greeks call them by what name they will.

The origin of myths is interesting, as showing what man is without God, but to make a myth of everything, and all things nothing but a myth, because of the etymology of words, is to lose the clue to information instead of using it. If Ionians mean 'Men of the East,' the men are not a myth, and I may enquire, why are they called so? That Sanskrit images have been a source of poetry, and an origin of fables! Be it so - I have no objection to it. But to stop there when I have living men before me is stupid. To connect these names with facts, because they are Sanskrit, is the problem. If Argive means 'light,' and Ionians 'dawn,' what does this lead me to is the question? That they are all of Aryan race. There is one probable fact. It may prove Iberians are not, and Lapps and Finns. But to make moonshine of it all, or sunshine, is absurd. The idolatrous part of it is very instructive. But the origin of the Aryan nations, pastoral and having boats (not sails, it seems) before dispersion, leads us up to only recent, and socalled patriarchal times, not to a barbarous state, by the proofs of language. Barbarous nations are known now, but tracing man up to barbarism is pure hypothesis, and aboriginal myths are not barbaric. Indra (the sun) driving flocks (clouds) to pasture, and the marriage of Varuna and Gaia are comparatively civilisation; and what have they before it?

254 I am not master of the Homeric question assuredly, but the Attic tragic poets using other versions than ours proves nothing, save that there were other traditions of an obscure history. If I were making a tragedy of Adam and Eve, assuredly I should not take Milton's Paradise Lost to make it out of. He would take the facts which suited his poetical power, as Homer or others did, and embellish them according to his genius.

Page 254. Speaking of the Iliad, Mr. Cox says: 'The poet closed his narrative with the triumphant outburst of the sun from the clouds which had hidden his glory. He was inspired by the old phrases which spoke of a time of serene though short-lived splendour after the sun's great victory.' Does Mr. Cox think that the poet was thinking of the sun and clouds only in the Iliad, and if not what was he thinking of? The descriptions of countries and kings, exact or unexact, prove he had something else in view, though he may have adapted ill-known legends to it. It may be said, 'This is another poem.' But even this only shows that, as a whole, it is a mixture of local tradition and ancient legends, and the scene is the same, the local scene, gods and all - the mise en scene, and even persons brought into play by Achilles' sullenness, i.e., the plan of the poem, though legends and other things may have been used and that in what enters into its essence and construction.

Page 258, 9. The note to these pages proves, I think, clearly that there was no direct intentional reference to solar legends, even in the Achilleis. It says: 'Paris as the seducer of Helen is indubitably the dark robber who steals away the treasure of light from the sky; but it is difficult to deny that Paris, as fighting for his country, or in the beneficence of his early career, has all the features of Perseus, Oedipus and Telephos. All the Trojan champions are in league with the dark powers of night,' etc.

255 Page 262. 'The attempt to judge the great legendary heroes of the Iliad by a reference to the ordinary standard of Greek, or, rather of Christian and modern morality, has imparted to the criticism an air almost of burlesque. There was doubtless quite enough evil in the character of the Northman and the Greek; but it never would have assumed that aspect which is common to the heroes of their epic poetry.' All this about morality is fudge. The poet colours his facts to suit his hearers or readers, who were very little scrupulous and loved revenge and success, like other passionate barbarians, and all heathens are morally barbarians, and that specially worthless people, the Greeks, above all. Who does not see that Grecian triumph and the degradation of enemies would please Grecian ears? The German character, though liable to such excess as human nature is, is different.

Page 271. The closing remark is perfectly absurd. He says: 'The poems may remain a mine of wealth for all who seek to find in them pictures and manners of the social life of a pre-historic age; but all the great chiefs are removed beyond a criticism, which starts with attributing to them the motives which influence mankind under any circumstances whatever.' As if the poet, whoever he was, did not frame the picture according to the taste of his hearers, whatever legends were employed! He gives them as Grecian chieftains, writing or improvising for Greeks. All this is simple blindness.

Page 312, etc. I see no reason to doubt that the phenomena of the sun, and heaven, and light were a chief source of tales and idolatrous fables, but to find nothing else in any is unspeakably stupid and narrow too, because why did men turn them into these fables? And there are other parts, and sources, and thoughts, partly in man's conscience, partly in deification of ancestors, star-worship, etc. Sabeanism is not the same thing as Ionism so-called. But 'all imagery meaning the rising and setting sun,' is overdoing it.

Page 321. 'The translators raise a vital issue when they say that to us moderns the real interest in these records of a past state of life lies principally in seeing events true in the main treated vividly and dramatically by people who completely understood the manners, life, and above all the turn of mind of the actors in them. If we have any honest anxiety to ascertain facts, and if we are prepared to give credit to a narrative only where the facts have been so ascertained, then everything is involved in the question whether the events here related are true in the main or not.' I am not much concerned in it, but all this is absurd, first, though of course exaggerated to produce wonder - poems or sagas must be suited, if current, to the taste of the times; and next, the removal of poetical facts leaves the question of historical facts simply an open question of probability and proof.

256 Page 327. 'The Vedic hymns bring before us a people to whom the death of the sun is a present reality, for whom no analogy has suggested the idea of a continuous alternation of day and night, and who know not, as the fiery chariot of the sun sinks down in the west whether they shall ever see again the bright face of him who was their friend.' It seems to me absurd to make the working of imagination to be the real thought, as that the sun died when it went down. When these things turned into idolatry and myths, then, of course, all was personified, and filled superstition because God was unknown, and imagination, never faith nor affections, connected with it. How well the Apostle, the Spirit of God says, 'By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, and that the things which are seen were not formed of those which do appear!' Still man's mind constantly ran up into the inalienable thought of God, the testimonium animoe, not indeed Christianoe, but of a divine Being, supreme and only God.

Page 331. 'That sense of sin, which, as distinguished from the transgression of a positive law, can scarcely be said to have been present to the Greek mind, weighs heavy on the spirit of the Hindu, even while his conception of the Deity whom he addresses may be almost coarse in its familiarity.' Why so? He gives us no proof. How does he know?

Page 332. 'The simple utterances of the Vedic poets show even more forcibly that the genuine belief in one almighty Being who is at once our Father, our Teacher, and our Judge, had its home first in the ancient Aryan land. It was a conviction to which they were guided by all that they saw or could apprehend of outward phenomena as well as by the irrepressible yearnings which stirred their hearts. For such yearnings and for such a consciousness in the Hebrew tribes we look in vain, before the Babylonish captivity.' How perfectly what accounts for all the beginning with one true God, which must be if there be one, and turning to idolatry, not discerning, not liking to retain God in their knowledge, is left out here! It is rather a contempt of Scripture for a clergyman, but whence came the yearnings if men began as barbarians, intelligent brutes, and only acquired ideas of God, their original state being that they thought the Sun died out and out every evening? And how then did they make one god of it? Is it not evident that the thoughts of one supreme God still remained in the human mind, though overlaid by idolatry? And how the confession that the Greeks had no idea of sin shows, along with their worthless levity, the progress of demoralisation with that of formal idolatry and anthropomorphism!

257 Page 337. 'The Vedic gods are pre-eminently transparent. Instead of one acknowledged king, each is lord in his own domain; each is addressed as the maker of all visible things, while their features and characteristics are in almost all cases interchangeable. Dyaus and Indra, Varuna and Agni are each in his turn spoken of as knowing no superior, and the objects of their chief care are not the children of men, but the winds, the storms, the clouds, and the thunder, which are constantly rising in rebellion against them. No sooner is one conflict ended than another is begun, or rather the same conflict is repeated as the days and seasons come round.' 'The true religious instinct must point to the absolute rule of one righteous God, and cannot itself originate the idea of many independent centres of action.' That the acknowledgment of one true God turned into the recognition of power in the heavens, Sun and various elements in respect to their influence on the interests of men, is evident. But that Dyaus, Varuna and Indra at first individually supplanted one another, just as Ouranos (Earth), Kronos (Time) and Zeus did, cannot, I think, be questioned - supplanted by more human and grosser forms, as Vishnu and Siva, though these, as all Indian gods, are treated by their votaries as supreme. Brahma was but Brahm - a more intellectual conception.

Page 339. 'If we find that, when examined, the functions of the Hindu and Hellenic deities become, if the expression may be used, more and more atmospheric - if they become the powers which produce the sights of the changing sky - if their great wars are waged in regions far above the abodes of men, the last blow is given to the theory which by the most arbitrary of assumptions finds the root of all mythology in the religious instincts of mankind.' No blow is given at all, still less to the original knowledge of one true God turned into idolatry but never lost, and phenomena made poetry of in connection with idolatry. The instinctive recognition of One Supreme runs through all idolatry. The religious instinct is what remained of this. There is a great want of scope of mind in this book.

258 But this, page 348, upsets the whole argument of the book. He says: 'In India the name Dyaus retained, as we have seen, its appellative force, and as a designation for the supreme God, was supplanted by the less significant Indra.' The Hindus kept the terms as an appellative, he tells us. Be it so - if so, the original and even long preserved idea was not that they were really living persons like themselves, nor could brightness be a person, though the Sun, as seeming to have voluntary motion and life might soon become so, and so he says here. 'If, then, in the names which were afterwards used to denote the supreme God we have words which in all Aryan dialects convey the primary idea of brightness, a clear light is at once shed on the first stages in the mental and moral education of mankind. The profound splendour of the unclouded heaven must mark the abode of the Being who made and sustains all things; and thus names denoting at first only the sky became in the West as in the East names of God.' The bright sky was held to be the dwelling place of Zeus or Dyaus! That the idle, heartless, selfish Greeks soon turned it all into this channel is very likely. And the difference of Hesiod and the Homerics just shows the whole thing. Hesiod's poems are a kind of quiet treatise which arranges the idolatry, for he had naught else as a theory, but when, in sober thought, conscience could have a place, and so God as such have a place according to conscience, Homer, or whoever it is, had to plead men's passions. Hence the gods themselves are brought in to gratify these passions, while keeping up appearances in a supreme though heartless being.

But what a picture of the wretched folly and misery of man does page 363 give. He says, 'We have more than the germ of mediaeval Lykanthropy, and little more is needed to bring before us the Were-wolf or Vampire superstition in its full deformity. That superstition has been amongst the most fearful scourges of mankind; but here, as elsewhere, it is something to learn that a confusion between two words identical in sound, and springing from the same root, laid the foundations of this frightful delusion.' The greatest proof, perhaps, of this folly and misery is the writer's insensibility to it. Why its springing from words should comfort him, it is hard to tell. There it was, whatever it sprung from, and its doing so only proved the power of the devil's delusions over man and his imbecility.

259 Page 369. 'The links which connect the belief of the one race with that of the others may be traced readily enough. The Vedic gods, like the Hellenic, live for ever.' This is a great blunder. The Vedic gods, at any rate, according to the systematised mythology, cease to exist when Brahm goes to sleep again, all is Maia (forgetfulness) - gods and all.

Page 373. 'The idea which the Aryans of India sought to express under the names Brahman and Atman, the Aryans of Europe strove to signify by the name Wuotan. That idea centred in the conception of Will as a power which brought all things into being and preserves them in it, of a will which followed man wherever he could go, and from which there was no escape, which was present alike in the heavens above and in the depths beneath, an energy incessantly operating and making itself felt in the multiplication as well as in the sustaining of life. Obviously there was no one thing in the physical world which more vividly answered to such a conception than the wind, as the breath of the great Ether, the moving power which purifies the air. Thus the Hindu Brahman denoted originally the active and propulsive force in creation, and this conception was still more strictly set forth under the name Atman, the breath or spirit which becomes the atmosphere of the Greeks and the athem of the Germans.' It is astonishing he does not see that this is pantheism. But I suspect his knowledge of Hindooism is very second-hand. He knew no Brahm as distinct from Brahma before.


The absurd futility of this book may be a corrective of the evil that is in it.

Page 118 and following. All this is not only morally disgusting, but ridiculously absurd. I have already noticed how this hobby of nature impressions, and human progress from it, is unnatural folly. As if a mother only knew what a mother was by long progress of human nature from physical phenomena! It is too absurd. A cow has more truth than that. And the application of phenomena to these things shows the things were known. In Hebrew none of this is true as to the language. It is only true where man has followed his own thoughts. And words cannot NOW express sacred relations unless sacred relations are there to be expressed. He says: 'The history of words carries us back to an age in which not a single abstract term existed, in which human speech expressed mere bodily wants and mere sensual motions, while it conveyed no idea of morality or of religion. If every name which throughout the whole world is or has been employed as a name of the One Eternal God, the Maker and Sustainer of all things, was originally a name only for some sensible object or phenomenon, it follows that there was an age, the duration of which we cannot measure, but during which man had not yet risen to any consciousness of his relation to the great Cause of all that he saw or felt around him. If all the words which now denote the most sacred relations of kindred and affinity were at the first names conveying no such special meaning, if the words father, mother, sister, daughter, were words denoting merely the power or occupation of the persons spoken of, then there was a time during which the ideas now attached to the words had not yet been developed. But the sensuousness which in one of its results produced mythology could not fail to influence in whatever degree the religious growth of mankind. This sensuousness consisted in ascribing to all physical objects the same life of which men were conscious themselves.' It proves that man had got into materialism - a very important point. But his argument only shows that man was bad, which badness, though he cannot deny it, led to the Mylitta worship he seeks to excuse as simplicity, though admitting that 'No degradation could well be greater than that of the throngs who hurried to the temples of the Babylonian Mylitta.' But his theory would prove that God created man thus bad, and that man formed himself gradually into morality. When he goes on to bring in Moses putting the serpent on the pole in the Desert as Phallic worship, and Eve's temptation to figures of the same source of evil, it is too morally imbecile to deserve any attention, and so in the note to page 116. He says: 'The phallic tree is introduced into the narrative of the book of Genesis, but it is here called a tree of good and evil, that knowledge which dawns in the mind with the first consciousness of difference between man and woman. In contrast with this tree of carnal indulgence leading to death is the tree of life, denoting the higher existence for which man was designed, and which would bring with it the happiness and the freedom of the children of God. In the brazen serpent of the Pentateuch the two emblems of the cross and serpent, the quiescent and energising Phallos, are united.'

261 But the whole book is Sun-godship run mad. But the Lingam is Siva clearly, not Vishnu, so he is every way wrong. But how simply the Fall accounts for all these things! And then the serpent turning himself into life, love making knowledge, eternity is the complete triumph of the enemy over deluded man, and poor Mr. Cox's book is his bible.

But this admission, page 129, that 'time was when human speech had none but sensuous words, and mankind none but sensuous ideas,' while true only of idolatry, yet is the witness how utterly man was fallen. Because if moral ideas are true now, they were always true, yet confessedly man had not one of them. If piety to a father is a sacred duty now, it always was. But it was only the devil or lust, not so much, as I have said, as a cow's feeling for its calf, according to the Rev. G. W. Cox. To say, page 130, that 'The images of outward and earthly objects have been made the means of filling human hearts and minds with the keenest yearnings for divine truth, beauty and love,' and may have been the only way, is really imbecility, but quite worthy of modern rationalism. That the renovation of nature, connected with the Sun's return from the winter solstice was the origin of every sort of corruption, and had the largest part in idolatrous worship and its worst part, is sorrowfully true. But the whole book is excessively superficial, and the pretended inductions often puerile. Even Pantheism in Brahminism is not seen, nor its connection with the innate sense of there being One True God 'who is over all and through' (not 'in') 'all.'