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DIGRESSION ON HINDU THEOLOGY AND EGYPTIAN
Comparative Theology of India ; its Phase of Sorcery ; its Anthropo
centric Phase. VEDAISM the Contemplation of Matter, or Adoration of Nature, set
forth in the Vedas and Institutes of Menu.—The Universe ix God.Transmutation of the World. -Do-trine of Emanation. — Transmigration. — Absorption. Penitential Services. — Happiness in Absolute
Quietude. BUDDHISM the Contemplation of Force. The supreme impersonal Power.
-Nature of the World--of Man.—The Passage of every thing to Nonentity.-- Development of Buddhism into a rast monastic System
marked by intense Selfishness. Its practical Godlessness. EGYPT a mysterious Country to the old Europeans.- Its History, great
public Works, and foreign Relations.—Antiquity of its Civilization and
Art.-Its Philosophy, hieroglyphic Literature, ani peculiar Agriculture. Rise of Civilization in ruinless Countries.- Geography, Geology, and
Topography of Egypt. — The Inundations of the Nile lead to
Astronomy. Comparative Theology of Egypt. -- Animal Worship, Star Worship.
Impersonation of Divine Attribut-s—Pantheism.—The Trin ties of Egypt. --- Incarnation. — Redempt on. - Future Judgment. — Trial of the Dead.- Kituals and Ceremonies.
At this stage of our examination of European intellectual development, it will be properto consider briefly two foreign influences—Indian and Egyptian-which affected it.
From the relations existing between the Hindu and European families, as described in the preceding chapter,
a comparison of their intellectual progress philosophy.
presents no little interest. The movement of the elder branch indicates the path through which the younger is travelling, and the goal to which it tends. In
the advanced condition under which we live we notice Oriental ideas perpetually emerging in a fragmentary way from the obscurities of modern metaphysics -- they are the indications of an intellectual phase through which the Indo-European mind must pass. And when we consider the ready manner in which these ideas have been adopted throughout China and the entire East, we may, perhaps, extend our conclusion from the Indo-European family to the entire human race. From this we may also infer how unphilosophical and vain is the expectation of those who would attempt to restore the aged populations of Asia to our state.
Their intellectual condition has passed onward, never more to return. It remains for them only to advance as far as they may in their own line and to die, leaving their place to others of a different constitution and of a renovated blood. In life there is no going back; the morose old man can never resume the genial confidence of maturity; the youth can never return to the idle and useless occupations, the frivolous amusements of boyhood; even the boy is parted by a long step from the innocent credulity of the nursery.
The earlier stages of the comparative theology of India are now inaccessible. At a time so remote as to be altogether prehistoric the phase of sorcery had
The phase of been passed through. In the most ancient records remaining the Hindu mind is dealing anthropocen
tric phase. with anthropocentric conceptions, not, however, so much of the physical as of the moral kind. Man had come to the conclusion that his chief concern is with himself. “ Thou wast alone at the time of thy birth, thou wilt be alone in the moment of death ; alone thou must answer at the bar of the inexorable Judge.”
From this point th're are two well-marked steps of advance. The first reaches the consideration Comparative of material nature; the second, which is very theology adgrandly and severely philosophical, contemplates directions the universe under the conceptions of space and Matter, Forc:: force alone. The former is exemplified in the Vedas and Institutes of Menu, the latter in Buddhism. In neither of these stages do the ideas lie idle as mere abstractions; they introduce a moral plan, and display a constructive power
not equalled even by the Italian papal system. They take
charge not only of the individual, but regulate Vedaism contemplates society, and show their influence in accomplishmatter, Bud- ing political organizations, commanding our dhism foice.
* attention from their prodigious extent, and venerable for their antiquity.
I shall, therefore, briefly refer, first, to the older, Vedaism, and then to its successor, Buddhism.
Among a people possessing many varieties of climate, and familiar with some of the grandest aspects of Nature -mountains the highest upon earth, noble rivers, a vegetation incomparably luxuriant, periodical rains, tempestuous monsoons, it is not surprising that there should have been Vedaism is
is an admiration for the material, and a tendency the adoration to the worship of Nature. These spectacles leave of Nature. an indelible impression on the thoughts of man, and, the more cultivated the mind, the more profoundly are they appreciated.
The Vedas, which are the Hindu Scriptures, and of which there are four, the Rig, Yagust, Saman and Athar-. The Verwe van, are asserted to have been revealed by and their Brahma. The fourth is, however, rejected by
es. some authorities and bears internal evidence of a later composition, at a time when hierarchical power had become greatly consolidated. These works are written in an obsolete Sanscrit, the parent of the more recent idiom. They constitute the basis of an extensive literature, Upavedas, Angas, &c, of connected works and commentaries. For the most part they consist of hymns suitable for public and private occasions, prayers, precej ts, legends, and doymas. The Rig, which is the oldest, is composed chiefly of hymns, the other three of litu gical formulas. They are of different periods and of various authorship, internal evidence seeming to indicate that if the later were composed by priests, the earlier were the production of military chieftains. They answer to a state of society advanced from the nomad to the municipal condition. They are based upon an acknowledgment of a universal The Veda duc- Spirit pervading all things. Of this God they trine of God, therefore necessarily acknowledge the unity : “ There is in trrith but one Deity, the Supreme Spirit, the
Lord of the universe, whose work is the universe."
“ The God above all gods, who created the earth, the and of the heavens, the waters.” The world, thus sidered as an emanation of God, is therefore a part of him ; it is kept in a visible state by his energy, and would instantly disappear if that energy were for a moment withdrawn. Even as it is, it is undergoing unceasing transformations, every thing being in a transitory condition. The moment a given phase is reached, it is departeil from, or ceases. In these perpetual movements the prezent can scarcely be said to have any existence, for as the Past is ending the Future has begun. In such a never
er-ceasing career all material things are urged, their forms continually changing, and returning as it were, throngh revolving cycles to similar states. For this reason it is that we may regard our earth, and the various celestial bodies, as having had a It: transfurmoment of birth, as having a time of continuance, mation. in which they are passing onward to an inevitable destruction, and that after the lapse of countless ages similar progresses will be made, and similar series of events will occur again and again.
But in this doctrine of universal transformation there is something more than appears at first. The theology of India is underlaid with Pantheism. “God is One because he is All.” The Vedas, in speaking of the rela- It is the visition of nature to God, make use of the expression semblance of that he is the M:terial as well as the Cause of the universe, “ the Clav as well as the Potter,” They convey the idea that while there is a pervading spirit existing everywhere of the sanie nature as the soul of man, though differing from it infinitely in degree, visible nature is essentially and inseparably connected therewith; that as in man the body is perpetually undergoing changes, perpetually decaying and being renewed, or, as in the case of the whole human species, nations come into existence and pass away, yet still there continues to exist what may be termed the universal human mind, so for ever associated and for ever connected are the material and the spiritual. And under this aspect we must contemplate the Supreme Being, not merely as a presiding intellect, but as illustrated
The nature of mundane
by the parallel case of man, whose mental principle shows no tokens except through its connexion with the body; so matter, or nature, or he visible universe, is to be looked upon as the corporeal manifestation of God.
Secular changes taking place in visible objects, especially those of an astronomical kind, thus stand as the gigantic
counterp both as to space and time of the
microscopic changes which we recognize as changes.
occurring in the body of man. However, in adopting these views of the relations of material nature and spirit, we must continually bear in mind that matter “has no essence independent of mental perception ; that existence and perceptibility are convertible terms; that external appearances and sensations are illusory, and would vanish into nothing if the divine energy which alone sustains them were suspended but for a moment.”
As to the relation between the Supreme Being and man, Of the soul of the soul is a portion or particle of that all
pervading principle, the Universal Intellect or Soul of the World, detached for a while from its primitive source, and placed in connexion with the bodily frame, but destined by an inevitable necessity sooner or later to be restored and rejoined—as inevitably as rivers run back to be lost in the ocean from which they arose. “ That Spirit,” says Varuna to his son, “ from which all created beings proceed, in which, having proceeded, they
live, toward which they tend, and in which they sorption in are at last absorbed, that Spirit study to know :
it is the Great One.” Since a multitude of moral considerations assure us of the existence of evil in the world, and since it is not possible for so huly a thing as the spirit of man to be exposed thereto without undergoing contamination, it comes to pass
that an unfitness
be contracted for its rejoining the infinitely pure essence from which it was derived, and hence arises the necessity of its underof purifying going a course of purification. And as the life of
man is often too short to afford the needful opportunity, and, indeed, its cvents, in many instances, tend rather to increase than to diminish the stain, the season of purification is prolonged by perpetuating a connexion of the sinful spirit with other forms, and permitting its
Its final ab