The translations which can be recommended to students are those by Renouf, with text and notes; Budge, with text and notes; and that by C.H.S. Davis, U.S.A. (based on Pierre). All these editions include the vignettes, which are very helpful in understanding the text.
I.—THE SCRIBE ANI PLEADS WITH OSIRIS THROUGH THOTH FOR ADMISSION TO THE UNDERWORLD AND FOR A SAFE EVIT (RESURRECTION)
(Osiris) Ani the Scribe says: Praise be to thee, Osiris Bull [so he was often represented]. O Amentet [the lower world] the eternal king is here to put words into my mouth. I am Thoth, the great god in the sacred book, who fought for thee. I am one of the great gods that fought on behalf of Osiris. Ra, the sun-God, commanded me—Thoth—to do battle on the earth for the wronged Osiris, and I obeyed. I am among them moreover who wait over Osiris, now king of the underworld.
I am with Horus, son of Osiris, on the day when the great feast of Osiris is kept. I am the priest pouring forth libations at Tattu, I am the prophet in Abydos. I am here, O ye that bring perfected souls into the abode of Osiris, bring ye the perfected soul of (Osiris) the Scribe Ani, into the blissful home of Osiris. Let him see, hear, stand, and sit as ye do in the home of Osiris.
O ye who give cakes and ale to perfected souls, give ye at morn and at eve cakes and ale to the soul of Ani the Scribe.
O ye who open the way and prepare the paths to the abode of Osiris, open the way and prepare the path that the soul of (Osiris) Ani the Scribe may enter in confidence and come forth [on the resurrection] victoriously. May he not be turned back, may he enter and come forth; for he has been weighed in the scale and is "not lacking."
II.—THE PRAYER OF ANI THE SCRIBE
The chapter about coming forth by day and living after death.
Says (Osiris) Ani: O thou, only shining one of the moon; let me, departing from the crowd on earth, find entrance into the abode of shades. Open then for me the door to the underworld, and at length let me come back to earth and perform my part among men.
A chapter whereby the funeral statuettes (Shabti) may be made to work for a man in the underworld.
O thou statuette there! If in the underworld I shall be called upon to perform any tasks, be thou my representative and act for me—planting and sowing fields, watering the soil and carrying the sands of East and West.
A chapter concerning the piercing of the back of Apepi.
Tur, the overseer of the houses, says through his god Tmu: O thou wax one who takest thy victims captive and destroyest them, who preyest upon the weak and helpless, may I never be thy victim; may I never suffer collapse before thee. May the venom never enter my limbs, which are as those of the god Tmu. O let not the pains of death, which have reached thee; come upon me. I am the god Tmu, living in the foremost part of Tur [the sky]. I am the only one in the primordial water. I have many mysterious names, and provide myself a dwelling to endure millions of years. I was born of Tmu, and I am safe and sound.
About contending against fever with the shield of truth and good conduct.
Says (Osiris) Ani: I go forth against my foes endowed with the defence of truth and good conduct. I cross the heavens, and traverse the earth. Though a denizen of the underworld, I tread the earth like one alive, following in the footsteps of the blessed spirits. I have the gift of living a million years. I eat with my mouth and chew with my jaw, because I worship him who is master of the lower world.
III.—NU PRAISES RA (THE SUN-GOD) FOR HIS ABILITY TO GO DOWN INTO THE GRAVE AND RETURN TO EARTH THROUGH THE MAGIC USE OF THE SACRED TEXTS
About entering the underworld and coming forth therefrom.
Nu says: I cry aloud to thee, O Ra, thou guardian of the secret portals of Seb [the grave], which leads to where Ra in the underworld holds the balance which weighs every man's righteousness every day. I have burst the earth [returned to earth]; grant that I may remain on to a good old age.
IV.—THE SPIRIT OF THE SCRIBE MESEMNETER PRAYS THAT SOME OFFENDED GOD MAY BE CONCILIATED
About removing the anger of the god towards the departed one.
The scribe Mesemneter, chief deputy of Amon, says: Praise be to thee, O God, who makest the moments to glide by, who guardest the secrets of the life beyond that of the earth, and guidest me when I utter words. The god is angered against me. But let my faults be wasted away, and let the god of Right and Truth bear them upon me. Remove them wholly from me, O god of Right and Truth. Let the offended one be at peace with me. Remove the wall of separation from before us.
A hymn to Ra at his rising and setting.
(Osiris) the scribe says: Praise to thee, O Ra, when thou risest. Shine thou upon my face. Let me arise with thee into the heavens, and travel with thee in the boat wherein thou sailest on the clouds.
Thou passest in peace across the heavens, and art victorious over all thy foes.
Praise to thee who art Ra when thou risest, and Tmu when in beauty thou settest. The dwellers in the land of night come forth to see thee ascend the sky. I, too, would join the throng; O let me not be held back.
Hymn of praise to Osiris.
Praise be unto thee, Osiris, lord of eternity, who appearest in many guises, and whose attributes are glorious.
Thou lookest towards the underworld and causest the earth to shine as with gold.
The dead rise up to gaze on thy face; their hearts are at peace if they but look on thee.
V.—LITANY TO OSIRIS
Prayer. Praise to thee, O lord of the starry gods of Annu, more glorious than the gods hidden in Annu.
Answer (repeated after each prayer). Grant thou me a peaceful life, for I am truthful and just. I have uttered no falsehoods nor acted deceitfully.
Prayer. Praise to thee, O Ani; with thy long strides movest thou across the heavens.
Prayer. Praise to thee, O thou who art mighty in thy hour, great and mighty prince, lord and creator of eternity.
Prayer. Praise to those whose throne is Right and Truth, who hatest fraud and deceit.
Prayer. Praise to thee who bringest Hapi [the Nile]; in thy boat from his source.
Prayer. Praise to thee, O creator of the gods, thou king of the North and the South. O Osiris, the all-conquering one, ruler of the world, lord of the heavens.
VI.—HYMN OF PRAISE TO THE SETTING SUN
About the mystery of the underworld and about travelling through the underworld.
When he sets on the underworld the gods adore him. The great god Ra rises with two eyes [sun and moon]; all the seven gods (Kuas) welcome him in the evening into the underworld. They sing his praises, calling him Tmu. The deceased one says, "Praise be to thee, O Ra, praise be to thee, O Tmu. Thou hast risen and put on strength, and thou settest in glorious splendour into the underworld. Thou sailest in thy boat across the heavens, and thou establisheth the earth. East and West adore thee, bowing and doing homage to thee day and night."
VII.—ABOUT THE RESURRECTION, OR THE COMING BACK TO LIFE (DAY), OF DEPARTED SHADES.
[This is one of the oldest (cir. B.C. 2700) and most remarkable chapters, though also one of the hardest to follow in its details. The vignettes reproduced in the editions of Davis, Renouf, and Budge help considerably in following the line of thought. An exact copy of this chapter has been found on the tomb of Horhotep.
The soul of the deceased encounters all manner of obstacles and opponents in the attempt to pass to the upper air, and he seeks constantly the help of Ra, etc., that he may be victorious].
Of the praises of entering the lower world and of coming out.
(Osiris) the scribe Ani says it is a good and profitable thing on earth for a man to recite this text, since all the words written herein shall come to pass.
I am Ra, who at my rising rule all things. I am the great self-made god.
I am yesterday and to-morrow. I gave the command, and a scene of strife among the gods arose [i.e., the sun awakened all the forces of Nature into action]. What is this? It is Amentet, the underworld.
What is this? The horizon of my father Tmu [the setting sun]. All of my failings are now supplied, my sins cleansed as I pass through the two lakes which purify the offences which men offer the gods.
I advance on the path, descending to the realm of Osiris, passing through the gate Teser. O all ye who have passed this way in safety, let me grasp your hands and be brought to your abode.
O ye divine powers of Maert, the sworn foes of falsehood, may I come to you.
I am the great Cat [i.e., Ra] himself, and therefore in his name which I bear, I can tread on all my enemies. O great Ra, who climbest the heavenly vaults and who sailest in thy boat across the firmament with undisputed authority, do thou save me from that austere god whose eyebrows are as menacing as the balance that weighs the deeds of men. Save me, I pray thee, from these guardians of the passages who will, if they-may, impede my progress. O Tmu, who livest in the august abode, god of gods, who thrivest upon damned souls, thou dog-faced, human-skinned one, devourer of shades, digester of human hearts, O fearful one, save me from the great soul-foe who gnaws and destroys shades of men.
O Chepera in thy bark, save me from the testing guardians into whose charge the glorious inviolate god has committed his foes; deliver thou me. May these never undo me, may I never fall helpless into the chambers of torture. O ye gods, in the presence of Osiris, reach, forth your arms, for I am one of the gods in your midst.
The (Osiris) Ani flies away like a hawk, he clucks like a goose, he is safe from destruction as the serpent Nehebkau. Avaunt, ye lions that obstruct my path. O Ra, thou ascending one, let me rise with thee, and have a triumphant arrival to my old earthly abode.
VIII.—A LITANY ADDRESSED TO THOTH
The speech of Ammautef, the priest:
I have come to you, ye gods of heaven, earth, and the underworld, bringing with me Ani, the scribe, who has done no wrong against any gods, so that ye may protect him and give him good-speed to the underworld.
The speech of Ani himself:
Praise be to thee, O thou ruler of Amenta, Unneferu, who presides in Abydos. I have come to thee with a pure heart, free from sin. I have told no falsehoods nor acted deceitfully. Give thou me in the tomb the food I need for the journey, so let me have a safe entrance to the underworld and a sure exit.
The speech of the priest Samerif:
I come to the gods residing at Restau. I have brought you (Osiris) Ani; grant him bread, water, and air, and also an abode in the Sechithotepu [Field of Peace].
The speech of Ani himself:
Praise be to Osiris, everlasting lord, and to the gods of Restau. I come to thee knowing thy goodwill and having learned those rites which thou requirest for entrance into the lower world. May I have a safe arrival, and find food in thy presence.
Litany to Thoth:
O thou who makest Osiris triumphant over his foes, make thou this scribe Nebenseri victorious over his foes.
O Thoth, make Ani triumphant over his enemies, etc., etc.
[If this chapter is recited over the deceased he shall come forth into the day and pass through the transformations which the departed one desires.]
IX.—A MAGICAL CHAPTER
Chapter of the Crown of Triumph.
Thy father Tmu has made thee this beautiful crown as a magical charm so that thou mayest live for ever. Thy father Seb gives thee his inheritance. Osiris, the prince of Amenta, makes thee victorious over thy foes. Go thou as Horus, son of Isis and Osiris, and triumph ever on thy way to the underworld.
Yea (Osiris) Aufankh shall, through this recited text, live and triumph for ever and ever. Horus repeated these words four times, and his enemies fell headlong. And (Osiris) Aufankh has repeated these words four times, so let him be victorious.
This chapter is to be recited over a consecrated crown placed over the face of the deceased, and thou shalt cast incense into the flame on behalf of (Osiris) Aufankh, so securing triumph over all his foes. And food and drink shall in the underworld be reached him in the presence of Osiris its king.
Chapter about making the deceased remember his name in the underworld.
Nu triumphant, son of Amen-hotep, says: Let me remember my name in the great House below on the night when years are counted and months are reckoned up. If any god come to me, let me at once be able to utter his name and thus disarm him.
A chapter about not letting the heart of the deceased act against him in the underworld.
My heart, received from my mother, my heart, without which life on earth was not possible, rise then not up against me in the presence of the gods in the great day of judgment when human thoughts, words, and acts shall all be weighed in a balance.
These words are to be inscribed on a hard green, gold-coated scarab, which is to be inserted through the mouth into the bosom of the deceased.
Chapter about repelling the ass-eater.
Avaunt! serpent Hai, impure one, hater of Osiris. Get thee back, for Thoth has cut off thy head. Let alone the ass, that I may have clear skies when I cross to the underworld in the Neshmet boat. I am guiltless before the gods, and have wronged none. So avaunt! thou sun-beclouding one, and let me have a prosperous voyage.
Chapter about reserving for the deceased his seat in the underworld.
Nu says: My seat, my throne, come ye to me, surround me, divine ones. I am a mummy-shaped person. O grant that I may become like the great god, successful, having seat and throne.
A chapter about coming forth by day from the underworld (i.e., the resurrection).
[One of the very oldest chapters in the Book of the Dead, as old at least as the first dynasty, say 4500 B.C. No chapter was regarded with greater reverence, or recited or copied with more confidence in its efficacy, probably because it is a summing up of the important chapters on the coming forth by day from the underworld. He who knows this chapter by heart is safe against danger in this world and in all other abodes.]
Nebseni, lord of reverence, says: I am yesterday and know to-morrow. I am able to be born again. Here is the invisible force which creates gods and gives food to denizens of the underworld. I go as a messenger to Osiris.
O goddess Aucherit, grant that I may come forth from the underworld to see Ra's blazing orb. O thou conductor of shades, let me have a fair path to the underworld and a sure arrival. May I be defended against all opposing powers. May the cycle of gods listen to me and grant my request
* * * * *
BOOKS OF BRAHMANISM
The religion of the ancient Persians and of the ancient Aryan Indians was at one time the same, and it is easy now to see the common basis of the beliefs and practices embodied in the Hindu Vedas and the Zend Avesta (see ZOROASTRIANISM), and their general resemblance. The religion of the ancient Aryan Indians has passed through three outstanding phases, designated by modern scholars: Vedism, or that taught by the Vedas; Brahmanism, based on the Brahmans, or ritual additions to the Vedas; and Hinduism (q.v.), the form which revived Brahmanism took after the expulsion of Buddhism. Though the latter is strictly an Indian religion, judged by its origin and characteristic features, it has for centuries almost ceased to exist in India proper. It will be found generally true that in Brahmanism there is, as compared with Vedism, an increase of the ritual, and a corresponding decrease of the moral element. The gods become more material, and the means of conciliating them ceremonial and magical. So also there is a growth in the power of the priesthood. One may compare this with the course of development among the Hebrews—the ritual and ceremonial bulking more and more, and the ethical receding, according to most modern scholars. It has to be remembered carefully, however, that the distinction between Vedism, Brahmanism, and Hinduism is more logical than actual. The seeds of Hinduism, even the doctrine of caste, may be traced in the Rig Veda, and a modern orthodox. Hindu will tell you that his principal scriptures are the Vedas, and that his creed and practice have their source in these scriptures. Brahmanism may be represented as a system of law and custom in the Laws of Manu; as a philosophy in the Upanishads; and as a mythology in the Ramayana and Mahabharata.
The word "Mahabharata" means "The Great Bharata," the name of a well-known people in ancient India. The epic so called is a very long one, containing at least 220,000 lengthy lines. It is really an encyclopaedia of Hindu history, legend, mythology, and philosophy. Four-fifths of the poem consist of episodes, some of them very beautiful, as the tale of Nala and his wife Damayanti. These have no primary connection with the original, though they are worked in so deftly as to make the whole appear a splendid unity. For pathos, sublimity, and matchless language, no poem in the world exceeds this one.
It is arranged in eighteen books, all of which claim to have been composed by Vyasa—another name for the god Krishna—who is said also in the course of the epic to have composed the Vedas and the Puranas. This is, of course, mythology, and not literary history.
The historical nucleus underlying this poem is the conflict which raged in ancient India between two neighbouring tribes, the Kurus (or Kauravas) and the Pandavas. But this is worked up into another long tale into which and around which Brahman teachers and philosophers have woven a very network of religious, theosophic, and philosophic speculation. The tale is, in fact, made a vehicle for teaching Brahman ism as it existed in India in the first five centuries of our era, though much of the Mahabharata goes back to a thousand years or so B.C.
OUTLINE OF THE EPIC
The descendants of Bharata, the king of Hastinapura, about sixty miles north of Delhi, were divided into two branches, the Kauravas and the Pandavas, each of which occupied the territory which had come down to it by inheritance. They lived together in peace and prosperity, worshipping the gods, studying the Vedas, and spending much time in meditation about higher things. But there came a change for the worse. The Kauravas, not content with their own territory, looked with jealous eyes upon that of their kinsmen, the Pandavas. Soon their covetousness realised itself in action, for gathering their armed men together, they sprang suddenly upon the land of their neighbours, whom they disarmed previously by professions of friendship and goodwill The Pandavas were conquered and driven into a far country, where they wandered homelessly and yet filled with undying love for the old home of their fathers and with a resolve to regain at the first opportunity their ancestral territory.
With the help of as many princes and generals as they could win to their side they marched towards the land which they had lost, taking back by force what had been wrested from them by force. The two armies met face to face on the field of Kurukshetra (land of the Kurus), and the battle, which lasted eighteen days, was about to begin. The father and king of the Kauravas, called Dhritarashtra, aged and blind, felt that he could not stand to witness the bloody affray. He accordingly accepted the offer of Vyasa (Krishna), a relative of both the contending parties, to have the entire course of events described to him when all was over, one Sangara, being deputed to perform the task. The battle began and proceeded for ten long days when Bhrisma, the chief general of the Kauravas, fell.
At this point Sangara advanced to the old King Dhritarashtra to acquaint him with the course things had taken, and among the rest to recite to him a conversation which had taken place between Krishna and Arguna, the Pandavan prince and general. It is this dialogue which constitutes the Holy Song, known as the Bhagavad-Gita, or Krishna Song, the Krishna of this philosophic poem being, of course, the eighth avatara; or incarnation, of Vishnu.
The remaining books of the Mahabharata recount the subsequent incidents of the war, which, in all, lasted for eighteen days. The Kauravas were destroyed, the only survivors being the Pandavas and Krishna with his charioteer. The many dead that were left on the field were buried with the rites of religion, and amid many signs of touching affection and grief.
Bhrisma, leader of the Kauravas, instructs Yudhishthira on the duties of kings and other topics. The poem then ends.
THE BHAGAVAD-GITA, OR HOLY SONG OF BRAHMANISM
This poem forms one of the finest episodes in the great Iliad of India, and, in fact, is hardly surpassed for profound thought, deep feeling, and exquisite phrasing, in the whole literature of India. Telang holds that the song is at least as old as the 4th century, and is inclined to regard it as an original part of the epic. According to most scholars, however, the "Divine Song" was added at a later period, and, in fact, in its present form it is scarcely older than 500 A.D. It is so thoroughly Brahmanic in its teaching that there can be little doubt but that this song was introduced in order to convey the teaching of Brahmanism prevalent at the time. The German scholar, Dr. Lorinser, has tried to prove that the author of this song had a knowledge of the New Testament and used it. The following passages are pointed out by him as dependent on New Testament passages.
I am exceedingly dear to the wise man; he also is dear to me.
I am the way, supporter, lord, witness, abode, refuge, friend.
I never depart from him (the true Yogis); he never departs from me.
They who worship me with true devotion, are in me and I in them.
Be assured that he who worships me perishes not.
I am the beginning and the middle and the end of existent things.
I will deliver thee from all sin; do not grieve.
He who knows me as unborn and without beginning, the mighty Lord of the World, he among mortals is undeluded, he is delivered from all sins.
What sacrifice, almsgiving, or austerity is done without faith is evil.
That man obtains the perfect state who honours by his proper work him from whom all things have issued, and by whom this All was spread out.
He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him (John xiv. 21).
I am the way, the truth, and the life (John xiv. 6) I am the first and the last (Rev. i. 17).
He that dwelleth in Me and I in Him (John vi. 56).
I in them and thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one (John xvii. 23).
Whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life (John iii. 16).
I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and ending (Rev. i. 8).
Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee (Matt. ix. 2).
This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom Thou hast sent (John xvii, 3).
Whatsover is not of faith is sin (Rom. xiv. 23).
Whether therefore ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (1 Cor. x. 31).
OUTLINE OF THE BHAGAVAD-GITA
The blind old father of the Kauravas asked Sangara to tell him how the battle had gone. He replied that, just as the fighting began, Krishna, the Heaven-Born One, stationed his glorious chariot between the armies and entered into a long conversation, with Arguna, the prince-general of the Pandavas. Said Arguna, "My grief at seeing these kindred peoples at war is beyond bearing, and the omens are unfavourable. I long not for victory, but for peace and for the prosperity of all. Behold, in battle array grandfathers, fathers, sons, friends, and allies. We have resolved to commit a great sin, to slay our kindred and associates, and all for lust of wealth and power."
The Holy One (Krishna) said in reply, "Thou grievest for those who need no grief of thine; yet are thy words words of wisdom. The wise have no grief for dead or living; know thou, O Arguna, that the man who has knowledge of the Eternal and Absolute One will never more be born, nor will he know death. As one puts away an old used garment, putting on a new one, so the self in a man puts away the old body and assumes one that is new. He, the Everlasting One, is unchanging and inconceivable. Be not thou grieved and have no fear. If slain in the battle, thou shalt reach endless bliss in heaven. If victorious, thou shalt have happiness on the earth; get thee, therefore, honoured one, to the fight and have no care for pleasure or pain.
"Some obtain comfort from what the Vedas promise with reference to eternal bliss. But these very Vedas teach that a man should strive at self-mortification and advancement in virtue with no regard to any reward. The final good after which men are chiefly to aim is a state of supreme indifference and contempt."
"But," asked Arguna, "what, pray, is that state of equipoise of spirit which thou urgest?"
Said the Holy One, "There is a twofold law: that of Sankhyas, or intellectual devotion, and that of Yogis, or practical devotion. Men must strive after the highest knowledge, that of Brahma, and also seek after right conduct." "What," asked Arguna, "is the cause of sin?" To which the Holy One replied, "Love and hatred, for hatred is begotten of love, and ignorance of moral distinctions and of anger; from all this comes unreasonableness and resulting ruin. A man's knowledge carries always with it desire, as the fire smoke. The senses are great, the mind is greater, and the intellect still greater, but the greatest of all is the Eternal Essence, Brahma.
"Many," said the Holy One, "are my births, and I know them; many too, are thine, but thou knowest them not. I am born from age to age for the defence of the virtuous and the undoing of the wicked. He who believes in my divine birth and work has no second birth, but enters me and abides with me for ever. Know me as the creator of the cates, know me also as the Eternal one that creates nothing. Faith brings with it knowledge, and knowledge contentment. Without knowledge and faith the soul is lost."
Arguna asked, "How fares it with the man who is not able to suppress his lower instincts and to undergo the discipline of Yogis? Is he for this, to be undone for ever?"
"No," replied the Holy One, "neither in this world nor in the next is he lost. The virtuous man does not enter an evil state. He reaches that heaven provided for all the good, and is born thereafter with higher moral capacities, with which, and by means of the knowledge gained in his previous existence, he rises to greater perfection; so that after many births he reaches absolute perfection and is united for ever with Brahma. But learn thou my higher nature; what thou seest is my lower, for I am divine and human. All the world came forth from me, and I will at the last destroy it. Higher than I does not exist. I am taste, light, moon, sun; I am the mystic OM; I am the mystic seed from which all things grow. He that offers sacrifice to inferior gods goes after death to those gods, but they that worship me come to me."
"What," asked Arguna, "is Brahma, the supreme spirit, the supreme sacrifice?"
The Holy One answered, "He is the Supreme, the Indestructible One; I am the Supreme Sacrifice in my present body.
"Hear now, Son of Pritha," said the Holy One. "If thy heart be fixed on me, and thou seekest refuge in me, thou shalt know me fully, and I shall reveal to thee the perfect knowledge of God and man. There are countless myriads of men in this world, but few there are who seek after perfection, and fewer still there are who obtain it."
OTHER PARTS OF THE MAHABHARATA
Though the husband die unhappy on account of his wife's ill-treatment and disobedience, yet if she consign herself to the flames after his death she is deserving of great praise. How much more should a woman be venerated who flings herself of her own accord into the flames after the death of a husband whom she has treated with affection and submission!
Let gifts be avoided; for receiving them is a sin. The silkworm dies of its riches.
It is not proper to rebuke or even blame wrong acts of gods or priests or seers; though no one is justified in following them in these acts.
Virtue is better than everlasting life; kingdom, sons, renown, and wealth all put together do not make up one-sixteenth part of the value of virtue.
The greatest sin that a king can commit is atoned for by sacrifices accompanied with large gifts [cows, etc.] to the priests.
* * * * *
SIR THOMAS BROWNE
Sir Thomas Browne, English essayist, came of a Cheshire family, but was born in London on October 19, 1605. Educated at Oxford, where he graduated in 1626, he next studied medicine at the great universities of Montpelier, Padua, and Leyden, and in 1637 went to live at Norwich, where he remained until his death on October 19, 1682. He was happily married in 1641, and was knighted by Charles II. in 1671. Sir Thomas Browne is one of the greatest figures in English literary history. He had extraordinary learning, a magnificent style, a certain dry humour, and, above all, great power and nobility of mind. In his two most valued works, "Religio Medici," or "Religion of a Physician," published in 1643, and "Urn Burial," in 1658, he deals with the greatest of all themes, the mysteries of faith and of human destiny. The "Religio Medici," written about 1635, was not at first intended for publication; but the manuscript had been handed about and copied, and the appearance, in 1642, of private editions, forced the author to issue it himself.
I.—THE BROAD-MINDED CHRISTIAN
For my religion I dare, without usurpation, assume the honourable style of a Christian. Not that I merely owe this title to the font, my education, or the clime wherein I was born; but that having, in my riper years and confirmed judgment, seen and examined all, I find myself obliged, by the principles of grace and the law of mine own reason, to embrace no other name but this.
But, because the name of a Christian is become too general to express our faith—there being a geography of religion as well as lands—I am of that reformed new-cast religion, wherein I dislike nothing but the name: of the same belief our Saviour taught, the apostles disseminated, the fathers authorised, and the martyrs confirmed; but, by the sinister ends of princes, the ambition and avarice of prelates, and the fatal corruption of the times, so decayed, impaired, and fallen from its native beauty, that it required the careful and charitable hands of these times to restore it to its primitive integrity.
Yet do I not stand at sword's point with those who had rather promiscuously retain all than abridge any, and obstinately be what they are than what they have been. We have reformed from them, not against them, for there is between us one common name and appellation, one faith and necessary body of principles common to us both; and therefore I am not scrupulous to converse and live with them, to enter their churches in defect of ours, and either pray with them or for them.
I am naturally inclined to that which misguided zeal terms superstition; at my devotion I love to use the civility of my knee, my hat, my hand, with all those outward and sensible motions which may express or promote my invisible devotion. At the sight of a crucifix I can dispense with my hat, but scarce with the thought or memory of my Saviour. I could never hear the Ave-Mary bell without an oraison, or think it a sufficient warrant, because they erred in one circumstance, for me to err in all—that is, in silence and dumb contempt.
I could never divide myself from any man upon the difference of an opinion; I have no genius to disputes in religion. A man may be in as just possession of truth as of a city, and yet be forced to surrender; 'tis therefore far better to enjoy her with peace than to hazard her upon a battle. If, therefore, there rise any doubts in my way, I do forget them, or at least defer them, till my better settled judgment be able to resolve them. In philosophy, where truth seems double-faced, there is no man more paradoxical than myself; but in divinity I love to keep the road, and, though not in an implicit, yet an humble, faith follow the great wheel of the Church.
Heads that are disposed unto schism, and complexionally propense to innovation, are naturally indisposed for a community, nor will be ever confined unto the order or economy of one body; and, therefore, when they separate from others, they knit but loosely among themselves; nor contented with a general breach or dichotomy with their church, do subdivide and mince themselves almost into atoms.
As for those wingy mysteries in divinity and airy subtleties in religion which have unhinged the brains of better heads, they have never stretched the membranes of mine. Methinks there be not impossibilities enough in religion for an active faith; I love to lose myself in a mystery, to pursue my reason to an O altitudo! I can answer all the objections of Satan and my rebellious reason with that odd resolution of Tertullian: "It is certain because it is impossible."
II.—THE DIVINE WISDOM
In my solitary and retired imagination I remember I am not alone; and therefore forget not to contemplate Him and His attributes who is ever with me, especially those two mighty ones, His wisdom and eternity. With the one I recreate, with the other I confound, my understanding; for who can speak of eternity without a solecism, or think thereof without an ecstasy?
In this mass of Nature there is a set of things that carry in their front, though not in capital letters, yet in stenography and short characters, something of divinity; which, to wiser reasons, serve as luminaries in the abyss of knowledge, and to judicious beliefs as scales to mount the pinnacles of divinity.
That other attribute wherewith I recreate my devotion is His wisdom, in which I am happy; and for the contemplation of this only, do not repent me that I was bred in the way of study. The advantage I have of the vulgar, with the content and happiness I conceive therein, is an ample recompense for all my endeavours in what part of knowledge soever. Wisdom is His most beauteous attribute; no man can attain unto it; yet Solomon pleased God when he desired it. He is wise because He knows all things; and He knows all things because He made them all; but His greatest knowledge is in comprehending that He made not—that is, Himself. The wisdom of God receives small honour from those heads that rudely stare about, and with a gross rusticity admire His works. Those highly magnify Him whose judicious inquiry into His acts, and a deliberate research into His creatures, return the duty of a devout and learned admiration. Every essence, created or uncreated, hath its final cause and some positive end both of its essence and operation. This is the cause I grope after in the works of Nature; on this hangs the providence of God.
That Nature does nothing in vain is the only indisputable axiom in philosophy. There are no grotesques in Nature, nor anything framed to fill up unnecessary spaces. I could never content my contemplation with those general pieces of wonder, the flux and reflux of the sea, the increase of the Nile, the conversion of the needle to the north; but have studied to match and parallel those in the more obvious and neglected pieces of Nature which, without further travel, I find in the cosmography of myself. We carry with us the wonders we seek without us; there is all Africa and her prodigies in us.
Thus there are two books from whence I collect my divinity: besides that written one of God, another of His servant, Nature, that universal and public manuscript, that lies expansed unto the eyes of all. Surely the heathens knew better how to join and read these mystical letters than we Christians, who cast a more careless eye on these common hieroglyphics, and disdain to suck divinity from the flowers of Nature. Now, Nature is not at variance with art, nor art with Nature, they being both the servants of His providence. Art is the perfection of Nature. Nature hath made one world, and art another. In brief, all things are artificial, for Nature is the art of God.
This is the ordinary and open way of His providence, which art and industry have in good part discovered, whose effects we may foretell without an oracle. But there is another way, full of meanders and labyrinths, and that is a more particular and obscure method of His providence, directing the operations of individual and single essences. This we call fortune, that serpentine and crooked line whereby He draws those actions His wisdom intends in a more unknown and secret way.
This cryptic and involved method of His providence have I ever admired; nor can I relate the history of my life, the occurrences of my days, the escapes, or dangers, and hits of chance, with a bare grammercy to my good stars. Surely there are in every man's life certain rubs, doublings, and wrenches, which pass a while under the effects of chance; but at the last, well examined, prove the mere hand of God. 'Twas not dumb chance that, to discover the fougade, or powder plot, contrived a miscarriage in the letter. I like the victory of '88 the better for that one occurrence which our enemies imputed to our dishonour and the partiality of fortune: to wit, the tempests and contrariety of winds.
There is no liberty for causes to operate in a loose and straggling way, nor any effect whatever but hath its warrant from some universal or superior cause. 'Tis not a ridiculous devotion to say a prayer before a game at tables; for even in sortileges and matters of greatest uncertainty there is a settled and pre-ordered course of effects. It is we that are blind, not fortune. Because our eye is too dim to discover the mystery of her effects, we foolishly paint her blind, and hoodwink the providence of the Almighty.
'Tis, I confess, the common fate of men of singular gifts of mind to be destitute of those of fortune; which doth not any way deject the spirit of wiser judgments, who thoroughly understand the justice of this proceeding; and, being enriched with higher donatives, cast a more careless eye on these vulgar parts of felicity. It is a most unjust ambition to desire to engross the mercies of the Almighty.
I have heard some with deep sighs lament the lost lines of Cicero; others with as many groans deplore the combustion of the library of Alexandria; for my own part, I think there be too many in the world, and could with patience behold the urn and ashes of the Vatican, could I, with a few others, recover the perished leaves of Solomon. Some men have written more than others have spoken. Of those three great inventions in Germany, there are two which are not without their incommodities. Tis not a melancholy wish of my own, but the desires of better heads, that there were a general synod—not to unite the incompatible difference of religion, but for the benefit of learning, to reduce it, as it lay at first, in a few and solid authors; and to condemn to the fire those swarms and millions of rhapsodies, begotten only to distract and abuse the weaker judgments of scholars and to maintain the trade and mystery of typographers.
As all that die in the war are not termed soldiers, so neither can I properly term all those that suffer in matters of religion, martyrs. There are many, questionless, canonised on earth that shall never be saints in heaven, and have their names in histories and martyrologies who, in the eyes of God, are not so perfect martyrs as was that wise heathen Socrates, that suffered on a fundamental point of religion—the unity of God. The leaven and ferment of all, not only civil but religious actions, is wisdom; without which to commit ourselves to the flames is homicide, and, I fear, but to pass through one fire into another.
III.—THE HOPE OF IMMORTALITY
I thank God I have not those strait ligaments or narrow obligations to the world as to dote on life or tremble at the name of death. Not that I am insensible of the horror thereof, or, by raking into the bowels of the deceased and continual sight of anatomies, I have forgot the apprehension of mortality; but that, marshalling all the horrors, I find not anything therein able to daunt the courage of a man, much less a well-resolved Christian. Were there not another life that I hope for, all the vanities of this world should not entreat a moment's breath from me. Those strange and mystical transmigrations that I have observed in silkworms turned my philosophy into divinity. There is in these works of Nature which seem to puzzle reason, something divine, that hath more in it than the eye of a common spectator doth discover.
Some, upon the courage of a fruitful issue, wherein, as in the truest chronicle, they seem to outlive themselves, can with greater patience away with death. This seems to me a mere fallacy, unworthy the desires of a man that can but conceive a thought of the next world; who, in a nobler ambition, should desire to live in his substance in heaven rather than his name and shadow in the earth. Were there any hopes to outlive vice, or a point to be superannuated from sin, it were worthy our knees to implore the days of Methuselah. But age doth not rectify but brings on incurable vices, and the number of our days doth but make our sins innumerable. There is but one comfort left, that though it be in the power of the weakest arm to take away life, it is not in the strongest to deprive us of death.
There is no happiness within this circle of flesh, nor is it in the optics of these eyes to behold felicity. But besides this literal and positive kind of death, there are others whereof divines make mention, as mortification, dying unto sin and the world. In these moral acceptations, the way to be immortal is to die daily; and I have enlarged that common "Remember death" into a more Christian memorandum—"Remember the four last things"—death, judgment, heaven, and hell. I believe that the world grows near its end; but that general opinion, that the world grows near its end, hath possessed all ages past as nearly as ours.
There is no road or ready way to virtue; it is not an easy point of art to disentangle ourselves from this riddle or web of sin. To perfect virtue, as to religion, there is required a panoplia, or complete armour; that whilst we lie at close ward against one vice, we lie not open to the assault of another. There go so many circumstances to piece up one good action that it is a lesson to be good, and we are forced to be virtuous by the book.
Insolent zeals that do decry good works, and rely only upon faith, take not away merit; for, depending upon the efficacy of their faith, they enforce the condition of God, and in a more sophistical way do seem to challenge heaven. I do not deny but that true faith is not only a mark or token, but also a means, of our salvation; but, where to find this is as obscure to me as my last end. If a faith to the quantity of a grain of mustard seed is able to remove mountains, surely that which we boast of is not anything, or, at the most, but a remove from nothing.
For that other virtue of charity, without which faith is a mere notion and of no existence, I have ever endeavoured to nourish the merciful disposition and humane inclination I borrowed from my parents, and regulate it to the written and prescribed laws of charity. I give no alms to satisfy the hunger of my brother, but to fulfil the command of my God; I draw not my purse for his sake that demands it, but His that enjoined it. Again, it is no greater charity to clothe his body than to apparel the nakedness of his soul; and to this, as calling myself a scholar, I am obliged by the duty of my condition.
Bless me in this life with but the peace of my conscience; command of my affections the love of Thyself and my dearest friends; and I shall be happy enough to pity Caesar! These are, O Lord, the humble desires of my most reasonable ambition, and all I dare call happiness on earth: wherein I set no limit to Thy hand or providence; dispose of me according to the wisdom of Thy pleasure. Thy will be done, though in my own undoing.
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INSTITUTION OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION
John Calvin was born on July 10, 1509, at Noyon, in Picardy, Northern France. Although the Calvins, his ancestors, had been bargemen on the Oise, his father was notary apostolic, procurator-fiscal of the county, clerk of the church court, and diocesan secretary. Young Jean Calvin was eight years old when Luther nailed his theses to the door of the castle church in Wittenburg. The new religion gaining very quickly a footing in France, the youth became influenced by it when studying in Paris at the College de la Marche. He held meetings with Protestants in a cave at Poitiers. His precocity was remarkable. At the age of twenty-three he wrote his first book, a commentary on Seneca's "Treatise on Clemency." At twenty-five he revised a translation of the French Bible. At twenty-seven he published the first edition of his mighty work, "The Institution of the Christian Religion," a treatise which has been styled "one of the landmarks of the history of Christian doctrine." At twenty-eight Calvin was the foremost man in Geneva, and was already one of the most remarkable reformers in the world. His career has rarely been paralleled. Calvin died on May 27, 1564.
I.—THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD THE CREATOR
Our wisdom consists almost exclusively of two parts: the knowledge of God, and of ourselves. But, as these are connected together by many ties, it is not easy to determine which of the two precedes, and which gives birth to the others. Our weakness, ignorance, and depravity remind us that in the Lord, and in none but Him only, dwell the two lights of wisdom, of virtue, and of piety. It is evident that man never attains to a true self-knowledge until after he has contemplated the face of God, and come down after such contemplation to look into himself.
It is beyond dispute that there exists in the human mind, and indeed by natural instinct, some sense of deity. As Cicero, though a pagan, tells us, there is no nation so brutish as not to be imbued with the conviction that there is a God. Even idolatry is an evidence of this fact. But, though experience teaches that a seed of religion is divinely sown in all, few cherish it in the heart. Some lose themselves in superstitious observances; others, of set purpose, wickedly revolt from God; and many think of God against their will, never approaching Him without being dragged into His presence.
But since the perfection of blessedness consists in the knowledge of God, He has been pleased not only to deposit in our minds the seed of religion, of which we have already spoken, but so to manifest His perfections in the whole structure of the universe, and daily place Himself in our view, that we cannot open our eyes without being compelled to behold Him. His essence is, indeed, transcendent and incomparable, but on each of His works His glory is engraven in characters so bright that none, however dull and illiterate, can plead ignorance as an excuse.
Herein appears the shameful ingratitude of men, that, though they have in their own persons a factory where countless operations of God are carried on, instead of praising Him, they are the more inflated with pride. How few are there among us who, in lifting our eyes to the heavens, or looking abroad on the earth, ever think of the Creator! In vain, because of our dulness, does creation exhibit so many bright lamps lit up to show forth the glory of its Author. Therefore, another and better help must be given to guide us properly to God as our Creator, and He has added the light of His Word in order to make known His salvation.
Here it seems proper to make some observations on the authority of Scripture. Nothing can be more absurd than the fiction that the power of judging Scripture is in the Church. When the Church gives it the stamp of her authority, she does not thus make it authentic, but shows her reverence for it as the truth of God by her unhesitating assent. Scripture bears, on the face of it, as clear evidence of its truth as black and white do of their colour, sweet and bitter of their taste. It is preposterous to attempt, by discussion, to rear up a full faith in Scripture. Those who are inwardly taught by the Holy Spirit acquiesce in it implicitly, for it carries with it its own testimony.
It is foolish to attempt to prove to infidels that the Scripture is the Word of God. For it cannot be known to be, except by faith. Justly does Augustine remind us that every man who would have any understanding in such high matters must previously possess piety and mental peace. In order to direct us to the true God, the Scripture excludes all the gods of the heathen. This exclusiveness annihilates every deity which men frame for themselves, of their own accord. Whence had idols their origin, but from the will of man?
There was thus ground for the sarcasm of the heathen poet (Horace, Satires, I.8). "I was once the trunk of a fig-tree, a useless log, when the tradesman, uncertain whether he should make me a stool, etc., chose rather that I should be a god." In regard to the origin of idols, the statement of the Book of Wisdom has been received with almost universal consent, that they originated with those who bestowed this honour on the dead, from a superstitious regard to their memory.
II.—THE GRACE OF CHRIST THE REDEEMER
Through the fall of Adam arose the need of a Redeemer, the whole human race having by that event been made accursed and degenerate. Man thereby became deprived of freedom of will and miserably enslaved. The dominion of sin, ever since the first man was brought under it, not only extends to the whole race, but has complete possession of every soul. Free will does not enable any man to perform good works unless he is assisted by grace. Yet, since man is by nature a social being, he is disposed, from natural instinct, to cherish and preserve society; and, accordingly, we see that the minds of all men have impressions of order and civil honesty. So that, in regard to the constitution of the present life, no man is devoid of the light of reason. And this gift ought justly to be ascribed to the divine indulgence. Had God not so spared us, our revolt would have carried with it the entire destruction of nature. But to the great truth, what God is in Himself, and what He is in relation to us, human reason makes not the least approach. The natural man has no capacity for such sublime wisdom as to apprehend God, unless illumined by His Spirit, and none can enter the kingdom of God save those whose minds have been renewed by the power of the spirit.
It is certain that after the fall of our first parent, no knowledge of God without a Mediator was effectual to salvation. Hence it is that God never showed Himself propitious to His ancient people, nor gave them any hope of grace without a Mediator. The prosperous and happy state of the Church was always founded in the person of Christ. The primary adoption of the chosen people depended on the grace of the Mediator, and Christ was always held forth to the holy fathers under the law as the object of their faith.
It deeply concerns us that He who was to become our Mediator should be very God and very man. The work to be by Him performed was of no common description, being to restore us to the divine favour so as to make us sons of God and heirs of the heavenly kingdom. In Him the divinity was so conjoined with the humanity that the entire properties of each nature remained entire, and yet the two natures constitute only one Christ. Everything needful for us exists in Christ.
When we see that the whole sum of our salvation, and every single part of it, are comprehended in Christ, we must beware of deriving even the minutest part of it from any other quarter. If we seek salvation, we are taught by the very name of Jesus that He possesses it; if we seek any other gifts of the Spirit, we shall find them in His unction; strength in His permanent government; purity in His conception; indulgence in His nativity, in which He was made like us in all respects, in order that He might learn to sympathise with us; if we seek redemption we shall find it in His passion; acquittal in His condemnation; remission of the curse in His cross; satisfaction in His sacrifice; purification in His blood; reconciliation in His descent into hell; mortification of the flesh in His sepulchre; newness of life in His resurrection; immortality also in His resurrection; the inheritance of a celestial kingdom in His entrance into heaven; protection, security, and the abundant supply of all blessings, in His kingdom; secure anticipation of judgment in the power of judging committed to Him. In fine, since in Him blessings are treasured up, let us draw a full supply from Him, and none from another quarter.
III.—THE MERIT OF CHRIST AS OUR SAVIOUR
It may be proved both from reason and from Scripture that the grace of God and the merit of Christ (the Prince and Author of our salvation) are perfectly compatible. Christ is not only the minister, but also the cause of our salvation, and divine grace is not obscured by this expression. Christ, by His obedience, truly merited this divine grace for us, which was obtained by the shedding of His blood, and His obedience even unto death, whereby He paid our ransom.
It is by the secret operation of the Holy Spirit that we enjoy Christ and all His benefits. In Christ the Mediator the gifts of the Holy Spirit are to be seen in all their fulness. As salvation is perfected in the person of Christ, so, in order to make us partakers of it, He "baptizes us with the Holy Spirit and with fire," enlightening us into the faith of His Gospel, and so regenerating us to be new creatures. Thus cleansed from all pollution, He dedicates us as holy temples to the Lord.
But here it is proper to consider the nature of faith. The true knowledge of Christ consists in receiving Him as He is offered by the Father, namely, as invested with His Gospel. There is an inseparable relation between faith and the Word, and these can no more be disconnected from each other than rays of light from the sun. John points to this fountain of faith thus: "To-day, if ye will hear His voice," to "hear" being uniformly taken for to "believe." Take away the Word and no faith will remain. Hence Paul designates faith as the obedience which is given to the Gospel.
The mere assent of the intellect to the Word is, according to some, the faith insisted on in Scripture, but this is a mere fiction. Such as thus define faith do not duly ponder the saying of Paul, "With the heart man believeth unto righteousness." Assent itself is more a matter of the heart than the head, of the affection than the intellect.
Repentance follows faith and is produced by it. In the conversion of the life to God we require a transformation not only in external works, but in the soul itself, which is able only after it has put off its old habits to bring forth fruits conformable to its renovation. Repentance proceeds from a sincere fear of God, and it consists of two parts, the mortification of the flesh and the quickening of the spirit. Both of these we obtain by union with Christ. If we are partakers in His resurrection we are raised up by means of it to newness of life, which conforms us to the righteousness of God. In one word, then, by repentance I understand regeneration, the only aim of which is to form us anew in the image of God, which was sullied and all but effaced by the transgression of Adam.
The apostle, in his description of repentance (2 Corinthians vii. 2), enumerates seven causes, effects, or parts belonging to it. These are carefulness, excuse, indignation, fear, desire, zeal, revenge. I stop not to consider whether these are causes or effects; both views may be maintained. The penitent will be careful not in future to offend God; in his excuses he will trust, not to his own apologies, but to Christ's intercession; his indignation will be directed against his own iniquities; his fear will be lest he cause God displeasure; his desire is equivalent to alacrity in duty; zeal will follow; and revenge will be practised in the censure passed on his own sins.
V.—OF JUSTIFICATION BY FAITH
A man is said to be justified in the sight of God when, in the judgment of God, he is deemed righteous, and is accepted on account of his righteousness. So we interpret justification as the acceptance with which God receives us into His favour as if we were righteous; and we say that this justification consists in the forgiveness of sins and the imputation of the righteousness to Christ. Since many imagine a righteousness compounded of faith and works, let it be noted that there is so wide a difference between justification by faith and by works that one necessarily overthrows the other. If we destroy the righteousness by faith by establishing our own righteousness, then, in order to obtain His righteousness, our own must be entirely abandoned. The Gospel differs from the law in this, that it entirely places justification in the mercy of God and does not confine it to works. It is entirely by the intervention of Christ's righteousness that we obtain justification before God.
The doctrine of Christian liberty is founded on this justification by faith. This liberty consists of three parts. First, believers renouncing the righteousness of the law look only to Christ. Secondly, the conscience, freed from the yoke of the law, voluntarily obeys the will of God. This cannot be done under the dominion of the law. Thirdly, under the Gospel we are free to use things indifferent. The consciences of believers, while seeking the assurance of their justification before God, must rise above the law, and think no more of obtaining justification by it. Our consciences being free from the yoke of the law itself, voluntarily obey the will of God.
VI.—ON THE DOCTRINE OF ELECTION
Ignorance of the doctrine of election and predestination impairs the glory of God and fosters pride. The covenant of life is not preached equally to all, and among those to whom it is preached does not always meet with the same reception. The reason of this discrimination belongs to the secret thing of God. This doctrine is cavilled at; yet when we see one nation preferred to another, shall we plead against God for having chosen to give such a manifestation of His mercy? God has displayed His grace in special forms. Thus of the family of Abraham He rejected some, and kept others within His Church, showing that He retained them among His sons.
Although the election of God is secret, it is made manifest by effectual calling. Both election and effectual calling are founded on the free mercy of God Calling is proved to be according to the free grace of God by the declarations of Scripture, by the mode in which it is dispensed, by the instance of Abraham's vocation, by the testimony of John, and by the example of all those who have been called. There are two species of calling. There is a universal call by which God, through the preaching of His Word, invites all men alike. Besides this, there is a special call, which, for the most part, God bestows on believers only, when by the internal illumination of His Spirit he causes the Gospel to take deep root in their hearts.
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SAMUEL TAYLOR COLERIDGE
AIDS TO REFLECTION
This famous book, of which the full title is "Aids to Reflection in the Formation of a Manly Character on the several Grounds of Prudence, Morality, and Religion," was published in 1825, nine years before the author's death. Its influence on thoughtful minds was very great, and many of the first divines of that period owed to it their profoundest religious ideas. It has been said that the fame of Coleridge (see LIVES AND LETTERS) as a philosophic thinker is not so great as it was during the twenty years immediately after his death; but one imagines that this statement merely means that not so many people now read Coleridge as did fifty years ago. The book, at any rate, has not yet been written which exposes a fallacy in his argument or demolishes his system. It should be remembered that this poet and searching thinker, to whom men like Wordsworth and Haslitt listened with reverence, was for some time in his life a Unitarian, and won to faith in the divinity of Christ by the use of his reason.
It is the most useful prerogative of genius to rescue truths from the neglect caused by the very circumstance of their universal admission. Truths, of all others the most awful and interesting, are too often considered as so true that they lose the power of truth, and lie bedridden in the dormitory of the soul.
There is one sure way of giving freshness and importance to the most commonplace maxims—that of reflecting on them in direct reference to our own state and conduct, to our own past and future being. A reflecting mind, says an ancient writer, is the spring and source of every good thing. As a man without forethought scarce deserves the name of man, so forethought without reflection is but a metaphorical phrase for the instinct of a beast.
In order to learn, we must attend; in order to profit by what we have learnt, we must think; he only thinks who reflects.
To assign a feeling and a determination of their will as a satisfactory reason for embracing or rejecting an opinion is the habit of many educated people; to me, this seems little less irrational than to apply the nose to a picture, and to decide on its genuineness by the sense of smell.
In attention we keep the mind passive; in thought we rouse it into activity.
An hour of solitude passed in sincere and earnest prayer, or the conflict with and conquest over a single passion or "subtle bosom sin," will teach us more of thought, will more effectually awaken the faculty, and form the habit of reflection, than will a year's study in the schools without them.
Never yet did there exist a full faith in the Divine Word which did not expand the intellect, while it purified the heart; which did not multiply the aims and objects of the understanding, while it fixed and simplified those of the desires and passions. "Give me understanding," says David, "and I shall observe Thy laws with my whole heart."
It is worthy of especial observation that the Scriptures are distinguished from all other writings pretending to inspiration, by the strong and frequent recommendations of knowledge and a spirit of inquiry. The word "rational" has been strongly abused of late times. This must not, however, disincline us to the weighty consideration that thoughtfulness and a desire to rest all our convictions on grounds of right reasoning, are inseparable from the character of a Christian. He who begins by loving Christianity better than truth will proceed by loving his own sect and church better than Christianity, and end in loving himself best of all.
II.—REFLECTIONS RESPECTING MORALITY
Sensibility, that is a constitutional quickness, of sympathy with pain and pleasure, is not to be confounded with the moral principle. Sensibility is not even a sure pledge of a good heart. How many are prompted to remove those evils alone, which by hideous spectacle or clamorous outcry are present to their senses and disturb their selfish enjoyments? Provided the dunghill is not before their parlour window, they are well contented to know that it exists, and perhaps is the hotbed on which their own luxuries are reared. Sensibility is not necessarily benevolence.
All the evil of the materialists is inconsiderable besides the mischief effected and occasioned by the sentimental philosophy of Sterne and his numerous imitators. The vilest appetites and the most remorseless inconstancy towards their objects, acquired the titles of the "heart," "the irresistible feelings," "the too-tender sensibility"; and if the frosts of prudence, the icy chain of human law, thawed and vanished at the genial warmth of human nature, who could help it? It was an amiable weakness! At this time the profanation of the word "love" rose to its height; the muse of science condescended to seek admission at the saloons of fashion and frivolity, rouged like a harlot and with the harlot's wanton leer. I know not how the annals of guilt could be better forced into the service of virtue than by such a comment on the present paragraph as would be afforded by sentimental correspondence produced in courts of justice, fairly translated into the true meaning of the words, and the actual object and purpose of the infamous writers.
Do you in good earnest aim at dignity of character? I conjure you, turn away from those who live in the twilight between vice and virtue. Are not reason, discrimination, law, and deliberate choice the distinguishing characters of humanity? Can anything manly proceed from those who for law and light would substitute shapeless feelings, sentiments, impulses, which, as far as they differ from the vital workings in the brute animals, owe the difference to their former connection with the proper virtues of humanity? Remember that love itself, in its highest earthly bearing, as the ground of the marriage union, becomes love by an inward fiat of the will, by a completing and sealing act of moral election, and lays claim to permanence only under the form of duty.
All things strive to ascend, and ascend in the striving. While you labour for anything below your proper humanity, you seek a happy life in the region of death.
Unless above himself he can Erect himself, how mean a thing is man!
With respect to any final aim or end, the greater part of mankind live at hazard. They have no certain harbour in view, nor direct their course by any fixed star. But to him that knoweth not the port to which he is bound, no wind can be favourable; neither can he who has not yet determined at what mark he is to shoot, direct his arrow aright.
It is not, however, the less true that there is a proper object to aim at; and if this object be meant by the term happiness, the perfection of which consists in the exclusion of all hap [i.e., chance], I assert that there is such a thing as summum bonum, or ultimate good. What this is, the Bible alone shows certainly, and points out the way. "In Cicero and Plato," says Augustine, "I meet with many things acutely said, and things that excite a certain warmth of emotion, but in none of them do I find these words, 'Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest!'"
In the works of Christian and pagan moralists, it is declared that virtue is the only happiness of this life. You cannot become better, but you will become happier; you cannot become worse without an increase of misery. Few men are so reprobate as not to have some lucid moments, and in such moments few can stand up unshaken against the appeal of their own experience. What have been the wages of sin? What has the devil done for you?
Though prudence in itself is neither virtue nor holiness, yet without prudence neither virtue nor holiness can exist.
Art thou under the tyranny of sin, a slave to vicious habits, at enmity with God, a fugitive from thy own conscience? Oh, how idle the disputes whether the listening to the dictates of prudence from self-interested motives be virtue, when the not listening is guilt, misery, madness, and despair! The most Christian-like pity thou canst show is to take pity on thy own soul. The best service thou canst render is to show mercy to thyself.
IV.—APHORISMS ON SPIRITUAL RELIGION
If there be aught spiritual in man, the will must be such. If there be a will, there must be spirituality in man.
There is more in man than can be rationally referred to the life of Nature and the mechanism of organisation. He has a will not included in his mechanism; the will is, in an especial sense, the spiritual part of our humanity.
I assume a something, the proof of which no man can give to another, yet every man may find for himself. If any man say that he cannot find it, I am bound to disbelieve him. I cannot do otherwise without unsettling the foundations of my own moral nature. If he will not find it, he excommunicates himself, forfeits his personal rights, and becomes a thing—i.e., one who may be used against his will and without regard to his interest. If the materialist use the words "right" and "obligation," he does it deceptively, and means only compulsion and power. To overthrow faith in aught higher than nature and physical necessity is the very purpose of his argument. But he cannot be ignorant that the best and greatest of men have devoted their lives to enforce the contrary; and there is not a language in which he could argue for ten minutes in support of his scheme without sliding into phrases that imply the contrary.
The Christian grounds his philosophy on assertions which have nothing in them of theory or hypothesis; they are in immediate reference to three ultimate facts—namely, the reality of the law of conscience; the existence of a responsible will as the subject of the law; and lastly, the existence of evil—of evil essentially such, not by accident of circumstances, not derived from physical consequences, nor from any cause out of itself. The first is a fact of consciousness, the second a fact of reason necessarily concluded from the first, and the third a fact of history interpreted by both.
I maintain that a will conceived separately from intelligence is a non-entity, and that a will the state of which does in no sense originate in its own act is a contradiction. It might be an instinct, an impulse, and, if accompanied with consciousness, a desire; but a will it could not be. And this every human being knows with equal clearness, though different minds may reflect on it with different degrees of distinctness; for who would not smile at the notion of a rose willing to put forth its buds and expand them into flowers?
I deem it impious and absurd to hold that the Creator would have given us the faculty of reason, or that the Redeemer would in so many varied forms of argument and persuasion have appealed to it, if it had been useless or impotent. I believe that the imperfect human understanding can be effectually exerted only in subordination to, and in a dependent alliance with, the means and aidances supplied by the supreme reason.
Christianity is not a theory, or a speculation, but a life. Not a philosophy of life, but life, and a living process. It has been eighteen hundred years in existence.
The practical inquirer has his foot on the rock when he knows that whoever needs not a Redeemer is more than human. Remove from him the difficulties that perplex his belief in a crucified Saviour, convince him of the reality of sin, and then satisfy him as to the fact historically, and as to the truth spiritually, of a redemption therefrom by Christ. Do this for him, and there is little fear that he will let either logical quirks or metaphysical puzzles contravene the plain dictate of his commonsense, that the Sinless One that redeemed mankind from sin must have been more than man, and that He who brought light and immortality into the world could not in His own nature have been an inheritor of death and darkness.
A moral evil is an evil that has its origin in a will. An evil common to all must have a ground common to all. Now, this evil ground cannot originate in the Divine will; it must, therefore, be referred to the will of man. And this evil ground we call original sin. It is a mystery—that is, a fact which we see, but cannot explain; and the doctrine a truth which we apprehend, but can neither comprehend nor communicate.
The article on original sin is binding on the Christian only as showing the antecedent ground and occasion of Christianity, which is the edifice raised on this ground. The two great moments of the Christian religion are, original sin and redemption; that the ground, this the superstructure of our faith. Christianity and redemption are equivalent terms.
The agent and personal cause of the redemption of mankind is—the co-eternal word and only begotten Son of the living God. The causation act is—a spiritual and transcendent mystery, "that passeth all understanding." The effect caused is—the being born anew, as before in the flesh to the world, so now born in the spirit to Christ.
Now, albeit the causative act is a transcendent mystery, the fact, or actual truth, of it having been assured to us by revelation, it is not impossible, by steadfast meditation on the idea and supernatural character of a personal will, for a mind spiritually disciplined to satisfy itself that the redemptive act supposes an agent who can at once act on the will as an exciting cause, and in the will, as the condition of its potential, and the ground of its actual, being.
The frequent, not to say ordinary, disproportion between moral worth and worldly prosperity has at all times led the observant and reflecting few to a nicer consideration of the current belief, whether instinctive or traditional. By forcing the soul in upon herself, this enigma of saint and sage, from Job, David, and Solomon to Claudian and Boetius, this perplexing disparity of success and desert, has been the occasion of a steadier and more distinct consciousness of a something in man, different in kind, which distinguishes and contra-distinguishes him from animals—at the same time that it has brought into closer view an enigma of yet harder solution—the fact, I mean, of a contradiction in the human being, of which no traces are observable elsewhere, in animated or inanimate nature.
A struggle of jarring impulses; a mysterious division between the injunctions of the mind and the elections of the will; and the utter incommensurateness and the unsatisfying qualities of the things around us, that yet are the only objects which our senses discover or our appetites require us to pursue; these facts suggest that the riddle of fortune and circumstance is but a form of the riddle of man, and that the solution of both problems lies in the acknowledgement that the soul of man, as the subject of mind and will, possesses a principle of permanence and is destined to endure.
Evidences of Christianity! I am weary of the word. Make a man feel the want of it; rouse him, if you can, to the self-knowledge of his need of it; and you may safely trust it to its own evidence—remembering only the express declaration of Christ himself, "No man cometh to Me, unless the Father leadeth him."
Christ's awful recalling of the drowsed soul from the dreams and phantom world of sensuality to actual reality—how has it been evaded! His word, that was spirit! His mysteries, which even the apostles must wait for the parable in order to comprehend! These spiritual things, which can only be spiritually discerned, were—say some—mere metaphors! Figures of speech! Oriental hyperboles! "All this means only morality!" Ah! how far nearer the truth to say that morality means all this!
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THE LUN YU, OR SAYINGS OF CONFUCIUS
The so-called "Four Books" of Chinese literature are held in less esteem than the "Five Kings," or "Primary Classics," but they are still studied first by every Chinaman as a preparation for what is regarded as the higher and more important literature. It should be borne in mind that the four "Shus," as these books are called, tell us much more about the actual teaching and history of Confucius. The four books are: (i) The "Lun Yu," or the "Analects of Confucius," which contain chiefly the sayings and conversations of Confucius, and give, ostensibly in his own words, his teaching, and, in a subordinate degree, that of his principal disciples; (2) the "Ta-Hsio," or "Teaching for Adults," rendered also the "Great Learning," a treatise dealing with ethical and especially with political matters, forming Book 39 of the "Li-Ki," or "Book of Rites," the "Fourth Classic," (3) the "Chung Yung," or "Doctrine of the Mean," more correctly the State of Equilibrium or harmony, forming Book 28 of the "Li-Ki"; and (4) "Meng-tse," Latinised "Mencius," that is, the conversations and opinions of Mencius. The first, the "Lun Yu," or "Analects," is the most important of these, the next in importance being the teaching of Mencius. The book to which we are most indebted in the preparation of the following epitomes is "The Chinese Classics," edited by Dr. J. Legge. Other books are "The Sayings of Confucius," translated by S.A. Lyall; "Chinese Literature," by H.A. Giles; and "The Wisdom of Confucius," by G. Dimsdale Stacker.
The original of the Chinese title of the "Lun Yu" is literally "Discourses and Dialogues." By Legge and most British Chinese scholars this work is called "The Confucian Analects," the word "analect" denoting things chosen, in the present case from the utterances of the master.
The "Lun Yu" is arranged in twenty chapters or books, and gives, ostensibly in his own words, the teaching of Confucius and that of his leading disciples. It is here that we learn nearly all that we know about Confucius. Since the work was composed, as we have it, within a century of the master's death, there seems good reason for believing that we have here a bona-fide record of what he thought and said. We may compare with the "Lun Yu" the Christian Gospels which profess to give the doctrines and sayings of Jesus, and also the traditional utterances of Mohammed edited by Al-Bokhari, who died in 870 A.D. The utterances which follow are by the master (Confucius) himself, unless it is otherwise stated. Other speakers are generally disciples of Confucius.
I care little who makes a nation's laws if I have the making of its ballads.
The young child ought to be obedient at home, modest from home, attentive, faithful, full of benevolence, spending spare time mostly upon poetry, music, and deportment.
A son ought to study his father's wishes as long as the father lives; and after the father is dead he should study his life, and respect his memory.
A man who is fond of learning is not a glutton, nor is he indolent; he is earnest and sincere in what he says and does, seeks the company of the good, and profits by it.
At fifteen my whole mind was on study. At thirty I was able to stand alone. At forty my speculative doubts came to an end. At fifty I understood Heaven's laws. At sixty my passions responded to higher instincts. At seventy my better nature ruled me altogether.
Mere study without thought is useless, but thought without study is dangerous.
Fine words and attractive appearances are seldom associated with true goodness.
If a man keeps cultivating his old knowledge and be ever adding to it new, that man is fit to be a teacher of others.
The superior man is broad-minded, and no partisan. The mean man is biased and narrow.
Tze-chang studied with a view to official promotion. The master said, "This is wrong," adding, "Thou shouldest listen much, keep silent when there is doubt, and guard thy tongue. See much, beware of dangers, and walk warily. Then shalt thou have little cause for repentance."
I do not know how a man can get on without truth. It is easier for a waggon to go without a cross-pole, or a carriage to be drawn without harness.
Neither courtesy nor music avail a man if he has not virtue and love.
Worship the dead as though they stood alive before you. Sacrifice to the spirits as if they were in your immediate presence.
If I am not personally present when the sacrifice is being made, then I do not sacrifice. There can be no proxy in this matter.
Tze-kung wanted to do away with the offering of a sheep at the new moon. The master said, "Thou lovest the sheep, but I love the ceremony."
These things are not to be tolerated: Rank without generosity, ritual without reverence, and mourning without genuine sorrow.
It is better to have virtue with want and ignominy, than wealth and honour without virtue.
If a man in the morning learns the right way of life he may die at night without regret.
A scholar's mind should be set on the search for truth, and he should not be ashamed of poor clothes or of plain or even of insufficient food.
The superior man loves the good and pursues it; besides this, he has no likes or dislikes.
The good man considers what is right; the bad man what will pay.
As long as thy parents live thou must not go far from them. But if through necessity thou leavest them, let them know where thou art, and be ready to come to them when needed.
The man who governs himself, restraining his passions, seldom goes wrong.
The good man desires to be slow of speech, but active in conduct.
Virtue stands never alone. It will always make neighbours.
In my first dealings with men I listened to their words, and gave them credit for good conduct. Experience has taught me not to listen to their words but to watch their conduct. It was from Yu that I learned this lesson.
I have met no man of strong and unbending will; even Chang is passionate.
On being asked why Kung-wan was said to be cultured, the master replied, "Because he was quick to learn, fond of learning, and especially because he was not ashamed to ask questions of those below him." Of Tze-chang the master said that he had four characteristics of the gentleman: he was humble in his own life, respectful towards seniors, generous in supplying the needs of the people, and just in all his demands of them.
Yen Yuan and Chi Lu were once sitting by the master, who turned to them and said, "Come, I want each of you to tell me his wishes." Chi Lu said, "I should like to have carriages and horses and light fur robes to share with my friends that they, and I, may carelessly wear them out." Yen Yuan said, "My wish is to make no boast of moral or intellectual excellence." The master said, "My wish is this: to make the aged happy, to show sincerity towards friends, and to treat young people with tenderness and sympathy."